University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Updating Estimates of the Costs of Raising Children with a Focus on Medical Support Costs

Federal regulations require each state to perform a mandatory periodic review of child support guidelines. Wisconsin child support policymakers have tried to address the multiple interests of the child, the custodial parent, noncustodial parent, and the State. Wisconsin, like most states, uses the “continuity-of-expenditure” concept to formulate its guidelines. The goal of this concept is to maintain the standard of living that the child has been accustomed to when living within a two-parent family. Children should not be adversely affected economically by the separation of their parents, or by being born into a household where their parents were not cohabitating. This model emphasizes expenditure, which is based on all direct and indirect expenses pertaining to the child, rather than cost that implies the numerical price of items or services provided for a child. This philosophy has its challenges, particularly determining which expenses should be considered and their level of importance in relation to other variables. This is especially difficult when trying to operationalize and quantify indirect costs, such as parenting time and lost opportunity. This paper is an exploratory literature review to reevaluate the previously identified expenditures that have affected child support calculation, with particular emphasis on the rising cost of health care.

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Child Development & Well-Being, Child Support, Child Support Policy Research, Children, Guidelines, Health, Health Care, Transition to Adulthood

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