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Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2009

Written by:
Report Number P60-240


  • An estimated 13.7 million parents had custody of 22.0 million children under 21 years of age while the other parent lived somewhere else.
  • About 1 in 6 custodial parents were fathers (17.8 percent).
  • More than one-quarter (26.2 percent) of all children under 21 years of age in families lived with only one of their parents. About half (49.2 percent) of all Black children lived in custodial-parent families.
  • Most custodial parents had one child (57.2 percent).
  • Over one-quarter (28.3 percent) of all custodial parents had incomes below poverty.
  • About half (50.6 percent) of all custodial parents had either legal or informal child support agreements.
  • Custodial parents receiving the full amount of child support due declined between 2007 and 2009, from 46.8 percent to 41.2 percent.
  • Of the $35.1 billion in child support due in 2009, 61.0 percent was reported as received, averaging $3,630 per custodial parent who was due support.
  • Child support represented 62.6 percent of the average income for custodial parents below poverty who received full support.
  • Over half (60.3 percent) of custodial parents received some type of noncash support from noncustodial parents on behalf of their children.

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 2010 Current Population Survey (CPS). It provides demographic information about custodial parents as of 2010, as well as child support and other income or program data for the 2009 calendar year.2 The report also shows the latest 16 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 child(ren) lived during the survey interview when their other parent(s) lived outside the household, although there may be equal joint- or split-custody arrangements.
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.

Complete Technical Documentation

Current Population Survey:

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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