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$35 billion owed in child support payments

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During a time when the number of people living in poverty reached its largest recorded number in 51 years, 28.3 percent of custodial parents found themselves below the poverty level. For many families, the income from child support is critical in order to care for their dependent children.

According to the 2009 report, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support, child support represented 62.6 percent of the average income for custodial parents below poverty who received full support, compared with 20.8 percent for all custodial parents. In 2009, 49.5 percent of custodial parents worked year-round full time, a decline from the 2007 figure of 53.6 percent. The percentage who participated in at least one public assistance program rose from 31.5 percent in 2007 to 37.7 percent in 2009.

The report focuses on the child support income that the nation’s 13.7 million custodial parents reported receiving, and other types of support such as health insurance and noncash assistance. The average amount of child support received by custodial parents who were owed support payments in 2009 was $3,630, or about $300 per month. More than half (60.3 percent) of custodial parents received some type of noncash support from noncustodial parents on behalf of their children. The most common type of noncash support was gifts for birthdays, holidays or other occasions, followed by clothes, and by food or groceries. Custodial fathers were more likely than custodial mothers to receive this type of assistance (70.4 percent compared with 58.1 percent).

This report is one of several related to children and families released recently by the Census Bureau, including America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2011, Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers: 1961-2008 and Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2010. The data come from the Child Support Supplement to the April 2010 Current Population Survey.  This supplement is sponsored, in part, by the Office of Child Support Enforcement of the Department of Health and Human Services.

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