Reports Show Billions in Child Support Goes Unpaid
The United States Census Bureau recently reported startling statistics revolving around the payment of child support. This report focused mainly on child support that is supposed to be paid from non-custodial parents and included both monetary and non-cash assistance. In 2011, the report revealed that more than $14 billion in child support payments were unpaid to primary custodial parents, which means that one of every three dollars owed in child support was not being paid by non-custodial parents.
This figure translates to less than one half of the child support eligible parents receiving the child support they are owed based on their court ordered arrangement, with about one quarter of those parents not receiving any of the support they were promised to receive. While child support is most often awarded during a paternity action or child custody case, the Census Bureau’s report confirmed that these orders for child support are all but “hollow” since the ordered payments are not being made.
Consistently under, late, or non-payment of child support often has the largest impact on lower-income child support recipients – although these parents have the option to seek government assistance in collecting the child support they are owed, reports show that less than 25 percent of those parents who are owed support payments have engaged the government’s enforcement resources between the years of 1994 and 2010. Experts believe this lack of payment and lack of seeking enforcement shows that receiving parents have “given up” on collecting the child support owed to them.
In addition to giving up on owed collecting payments, studies have shown fewer parents are engaging the government’s enforcement resources because they come up with their own, alternative agreement with the non-custodial parent outside of the court room. Another report also showed that parents who are younger or less educated were less likely to collect all of the child support they were owed from the non-custodial parent.
Research has also shown that the custody arrangement for the children parents share does have an impact on how or when child support is paid. In situations where the parents share joint custody, more than half of receiving parents have reported receiving child support payments in full. However, in custody situations where the children have no contact with the non-custodial parent, it has been shown that it is unlikely the receiving parent receives owed child support.