Custodial Mothers and Fathers With Child Support Payments

For custodial parents in North Carolina, there are a number of ways that a child support enforcement agency might try to get a parent to pay support. There was an increase in child support collections from $21 billion to $31.6 billion from 2001 to 2012.

Throughout the country, the focus has shifted toward helping noncustodial parents get more involved in their children’s lives and pay support. Some jurisdictions are lowering payments and increasing noncustodial parents’ access to children. While custodial parents are largely mothers and noncustodial parents are largely fathers, the percentage of custodial parents who do not receive child support is similar.

In 2011, custodial mothers were owed $31.7 billion in child support while custodial fathers were owed $3.7 billion. While the amount owed to fathers is considerably lower, it is still a significant amount, particularly for individual fathers and children who are struggling to make ends meet. Just over 41 percent of custodial fathers get all the child support they are owed while 43.6 percent of mothers do. Around one-quarter of custodial mothers receive no child support at all while 32 percent of fathers get no payments. Custodial mothers have a higher poverty rate than custodial fathers, but about 16 percent of families with a custodial father live in poverty.

Working out issues around child custody, visitation and support in a divorce can be complex. Parents might want to try to negotiate a child custody agreement, but if they cannot do so, the case could go to court. A judge will make a decision based on what the court views as the best interests of the child. A parent who needs to change the amount of child support paid should not simply stop paying even if both parents agree on the amount; the parent must go to court to ask for a child support modification.

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