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Statistics show most parents stiffed on child support

Over the years, California readers may have heard some political pundits suggesting that parents receive too much child support. However, statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show that most single parents receive less than they are owed.

According to the latest government data, there are 13.4 million single parents in the U.S., and nearly 50 percent of them have negotiated a child support agreement of some kind. Of those parents with child support agreements, 89.8 percent set them up through the courts or a Title IV-D agency while 10.2 percent negotiated the agreement informally. Almost a quarter of custodial parents receiving child support also receive some sort of government assistance.

In 2013, 6.5 million custodial parents were owed a total of $32.9 billion in child support, which amounted to each noncustodial parent owing an average of $5,774 per year. However, only 68.5 percent of that money was actually paid. That means that custodial parents were owed an average $481 per month, but they only received an average of $329 per month. Only 45.6 percent of parents were paid all the support to which they were owed, 28.5 percent received some of the money they were owed and 25.9 percent didn't receive any money at all. Overall, 54.4 percent of custodial parents were underpaid on child support payments. Statistics show that 52.3 percent of parents receiving child support in 2013 were women while 31.4 percent were men.

California parents who are going through a divorce may benefit by working with a family law attorney. A lawyer could assess a person's financial situation and work to reach a child support agreement that is in the best interests of the children involved. If the agreement needs to be modified at a later date, an attorney could petition the court to make the necessary changes.

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