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Statistics highlight child support across the country

Child support can be essential to single parents in Texas given the expense of raising one or more children. While many people think that child support payments are often large or excessive, the reality is far different for the majority of parents. While some high-profile celebrity cases may garner a great deal of attention, child support payments are governed by a state schedule that reflects the income and lifestyle of the parents.

The U.S. Census Bureau keeps track of key statistics about child support across the country, including how many parents receive support, the amount that is owed and the amount that is actually received. The 2016 report noted that there are approximately 13.4 million single parents with custody across the country. However, less than half have either an informal or a formal agreement for child support. The vast majority of those who do arranged their support through a family court or an official state agency; only 10.2 percent are continuing informal agreements. A large majority has never turned to the government for help in collecting support owed. Only 22.4 percent of single parents have sought assistance with child support enforcement.

Many single parents do not receive the full amount of their child support order. Even non-custodial parents who are trying to comply may face financial difficulties and make only partial payments. While the average child support order is for $500 monthly, the average amount actually received by parents is $329 monthly.

Whether people are choosing to divorce or seeking to set up care of a child they had while unmarried, child support can be critical to provide for educational, medical and other needs. A family law attorney may help parents seek and obtain a support order to address those key expenses.

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