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Parents pushed below poverty line by lack of child support

In this dismal economy, it takes very little to push a family that is already on shaky financial ground over the edge into poverty. According to a recent report from the United States Census Bureau, one occurrence that has unfortunately become quite common is responsible for many parents falling below the poverty line in Nevada and throughout the U.S.

Using census data from 2009, the Census Bureau recently concluded that less than half of custodial parents receive the full amount of child support that is owed to them by the noncustodial parents of their children. Specifically, just 41 percent of custodial parents received full child support payments in 2009, which is an unfortunate decrease from the 46 percent who received full child support in 2007.

This failure of noncustodial parents to make their full child support payments can have a significant impact on custodial parents and their children. Custodial parents, 82 percent of whom are women, are more likely to be below the poverty line than noncustodial parents. The number of parents in poverty is increasing, as well. In 2001, 23 percent of custodial parents had incomes below the poverty level. In 2009, that number had increased to 28 percent.

Researchers did not indicate the reasons that parents didn’t make their full child support payments. In 2009, half of all custodial parents had an agreement to receive financial support with their child’s other parent. More than 90 percent of these agreements were in the form of court orders or settlements, and the remaining 10 percent were informal agreements or understandings. It is unclear why family courts and child support offices are not holding parents accountable for their court-ordered child support payments.

Source: MainStreet, “Parents Finding It Harder To Get Full Child Support Payments,” Kristin Colella, Dec. 7, 2011

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