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Child Support Statistics and Trends

Following is a selection of nationwide statistics and trends on payment and receipt of child support.

Average Annual Amount of Child Support Due and Received

  • In 2001, 6.9 million custodial parents who were due child support under the terms of agreements or current awards were due an average of $5,000; an aggregate of $34.9 billion in payments due.
  • Of this amount, about $21.9 billion (62.6 percent) was received, averaging $3,200 per custodial-parent family. Overall, custodial parents reported receiving $22.8 billion directly from the non-custodial parent for support of their children in 2001, which included $900 million received by parents without current awards or agreements.

Average Annual Amount of Child Support Received

  • In 2001, the average annual amount of child support received (for custodial parents receiving at least some support) was $4,300, and did not differ between mothers and fathers (as support recipients).

Parents Who Received All Child Support Due

  • The 2001 proportion of custodial parents receiving every child support payment they were due was 44.8 percent. Among these parents, the average amount received was $5,800, and did not differ significantly between mothers and fathers.
  • The average family income for the 3.1 million custodial parents who received all the child support they were due in 2001 was $32,300, and their poverty rate was 14.6 percent.

Child Support More Likely When Custody and Visitation Agreements in Place

  • A large majority (85.3 percent) of the 6.9 million custodial parents due child support payments in 2001 had arrangements for joint child custody or visitation privileges with the non-custodial parents, and approximately three-fourths (77.1 percent) of these parents received some support payments.
  • Of the custodial parents due child support but who did not have joint custody or visitation arrangements, about half (55.8 percent) received any payments.

Child Support and Public Assistance

  • About 36.5 percent of custodial parents contacted a state child support enforcement office (also known as a "IV-D" office), state department of social services, or other welfare office for child support assistance in 2001.
  • Participation in public assistance programs by custodial parents fell from 40.7 to 28.4 percent between 1993 and 2001. While the rate of program participation for custodial mothers decreased from 45.2 percent to 31.0 percent during that time, it was still about double that of custodial fathers in 2001 (14.9 percent).

More Statistics on Child Support and Child Custody

  • In 2002, an estimated 13.4 million parents had custody of 21.5 million children under 21 years of age whose other parent lived somewhere else. About 5 of every 6 custodial parents were mothers (84.4 percent) and 1 in 6 were fathers (15.6 percent).
  • In 2002, 27.6 percent of all children under 21 living in families had a parent not living in the home.
  • Of the 13.4 million custodial parents in April 2002:
    • 7.9 million custodial parents had some type of support agreement or award for their children, and
    • 5.5 million custodial parents had no child support agreements.
  • About 63.0 percent of custodial mothers and 38.6 percent of fathers had child support agreed or awarded to them.
  • Among these parents who were due support in 2001, 73.9 percent received at least some payments directly from the non-custodial parent.
  • About 58.9 percent of the 7.9 million child support agreements in 2001 had provisions for health insurance for the children.
  • Characteristics of Custodial Mothers. About 31.2 percent of custodial mothers have never been married. The remaining ever-married mothers included 43.7 percent who were divorced or separated and 25.1 percent who were currently married or widowed.
  • Characteristics of Custodial Father. The majority of custodial fathers were divorced or separated (56.2 percent), while 24.5 percent were currently married or widowed and 20.3 percent had never been married.

Read the Entire Report: Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support [PDF]

Next Steps
Contact a qualified child support attorney to make sure
your rights are protected.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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