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Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2007

Written by:
Report Number P60-237


  • An estimated 13.7 million parents had custody of 21.8 million children under 21 years of age while the other parent lived somewhere else.
  • More than one-quarter (26.3 percent) of all children under 21 years of age lived with one of their parents, while the other parent lived outside the household.
  • One-quarter (24.6 percent) of all custodial parents had incomes below poverty, while 18.2 percent of those who received at least some child support payments were below poverty.
  • Custodial parents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), formerly known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), fell from 22.0 percent to 4.3 percent during the past 14 years.
  • About 62.7 percent of the $34.1 billion in child support due was reported as received, averaging $3,350 per custodial parent who was due support.
  • About three-quarters (76.3 percent) of custodial parents due support received at least some payments in 2007, which included 46.8 percent who received the full amount and 29.5 percent who received a portion of the total due.
  • Child support represented 47.9 percent of the average income for custodial parents below poverty who received full support.
  • Over half (57.6 percent) of custodial parents received some type of noncash support from noncustodial parents on behalf of their children.
  • Over one-quarter (27.3 percent) of custodial parents contacted a government office for issues related to collecting child support.

This report focuses on the child support income that custodial parents reported receiving from noncustodial parents living elsewhere and other types of support, such as health insurance and noncash assistance.1 The most recent data in this report are from the Child Support Supplement to the April 2008 Current Population Survey (CPS). It provides demographic information about custodial parents as of 2008, as well as child support and other income or program data for the 2007 calendar year.2 This report also shows the latest 14-year trends by comparing data collected from the 1994 April CPS and subsequent biennial surveys. (See text box “Limitations of the Data” for additional survey information.)

1 The custodial parent is the parent with whom the children lived during the survey interview when the other parent lived outside the household, although there may be an equal joint- or split-custody arrangement.
2 The population represented (the population universe) is the civilian noninstitutionalized population living in the United States, 15 years of age or older, who have their own children under 21 years old living with them while the other parent lives outside the household.

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