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Child Support and Alimony: 1985 (Advance Data from March-April 1986 Current Population Surveys)

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Report Number P23-152

NOTE: The child support, alimony, and property settlement data as well as data on income and poverty status presented in this report, from the 1986 Current Population Survey (CPS), are the first estimates based entirely on households selected from the 1980 census-based sample design. By contrast, the data from the 1984 CPS, presented in the previous report, were based entirely on households selected from the 1970 census-based sample design. The change in the sample design and its possible effects on the estimates should be kept in mind when comparing the data from this report to data from previous years.1


This report presents information on the receipt by women of support payments following divorce and separation and of support payments for children of never-married women. The report includes information on both the award and actual receipt of child support by women on behalf of their children and on alimony for their own support. The report also provides additional data concerning receipt and type of property settlement for ever-divorced women.

The Bureau of the Census, under joint sponsorship with the Department of Health and Human Services, first conducted a survey specifically designed to obtain data on child support and alimony in the spring of 1979. The survey, with minor modifications, was subsequently conducted in the springs of 1982, 1984, and 1986 by the Bureau of the Census and sponsored, in part, by the Office of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services. Data from the earlier surveys were presented in Current Population Reports, Series P-23, Nos. 112, 140, and 148, respectively.2 Advance findings from the 1986 survey are presented in this report.

1 See the section, "Revised Survey Procedures." For a detailed description of the changes to the survey between 1986 and 1984, see the section, “Changes in the April CPS Survey."

2 For a comparison of the 1982 and 1979 surveys, and the 1984 and 1982 surveys, see Current Population Reports, Series P-23, Nos. 140 and 148, respectively, the sections entitled "Changes in the Survey."

A Note on Language

Census statistics date back to 1790 and reflect the growth and change of the United States. Past census reports contain some terms that today’s readers may consider obsolete and inappropriate. As part of our goal to be open and transparent with the public, we are improving access to all Census Bureau original publications and statistics, which serve as a guide to the nation's history.

Page Last Revised - October 28, 2021
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