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Parents skip out on $14 billion in child support payments

Texas parents who aren't receiving child support payments from their ex-spouse may be interested to know they're not alone in this predicament. Nationally, non-custodial parents are behind $14 billion in child support payments, the U.S. Census Bureau said recently.

This amount represents one-third of child support payments that were due in 2011, the federal agency said. While millions of custodial parents are awarded child support payments, getting that money can be a different story. About 25 percent of custodial parents receive no child support payments at all. When a parent does pay the required amount in full, the average child support payment is $500 a month. Parents who are less educated or not allowed to see their children tend to skip the payments. Some parents also get other forms of support, including groceries and clothes, in lieu of cash.

While the amount of back child support is adding up, the agency noted that fewer parents are seeking help from government agencies to get this support. This may be because some parents don't understand how to use the system. The escalating problem with non-payment of support indicates a need for reform in the child support system, says a child support advocacy group.

Divorce can be very difficult on children. When parents do separate, a child should get to maintain the same standard of living as when the parents were together. However, when one parent does not make child support payments, it becomes hard for the custodial parent to meet the child's financial needs. A family law attorney may be able to identify all income sources for the non-custodial parent to make sure the child's needs are met financially.

Source: LA Times, "Billions of dollars in child support go unpaid yearly", Emily Alpert Reyes, November 20, 2013

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