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Many custodial parents don't receive full child support payments

When a parent is awarded primary custody of one or more children, the other parent is often ordered to pay child support. For too many custodial parents, however, collecting that needed support is difficult.

Data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows just how widespread the issue of unpaid child support is. In 2015, only 43.5 percent of parents received all of the child support that was due to them. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is the fact that 30 percent of custodial parents got none of the support they were owed. That's the highest rate of nonpayment in the 22 years tracked, beginning in 1993.

Since most custodial parents are women, this problem hits them hardest. Further, custodial mothers were more likely to be in poverty than custodial fathers (29.2 percent as opposed to 16.7 percent.) The connection between poverty and missing child support can't be ignored. Just over 39 percent of custodial parents below the poverty line received the full amount of child support owed them.

The Census Bureau data also showed the percentage of custodial parents who received some of the support owed them. That was 26 percent in 2015. That's down somewhat from the roughly 30 percent rate of partial payments that held steady from the late 1990s through 2013.

While the percentage of parents receiving the full amount of support due them, as noted, was just 43.5 percent, it's been even lower in some years. It never went got above 47 percent in the years for which the data was reported. The low point was 37 percent in 1993.

Many states, including Arizona, have a variety of methods for collecting overdue child support, such as wage garnishment. It's essential to find out what your options are for getting the money you're due to care for your children. Your family law attorney can provide important guidance.

Source: Bloomberg, "Less Than Half of U.S. Parents With Child Custody Get Funds," Vincent Del Giudice, Jan. 30, 2018

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