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Child support by the numbers

Child support is payments from one parent (the non-custodial or parent with less parenting time) to the parent with more parenting time. The purpose is to ensure that, even though the non-custodial parent is not directly participating, he or she is not relieved of their responsibility to the child. Under this logic child support payments, while given to the parent, are intended for the child's care.

While an excellent idea in theory, in practice child support, is far more complicated to enforce and pay out. In 2001, 6.9 million parents were entitled to receive child support. On average, they were due about $5,000 which totals about $34.9 billion. As an absolute amount, those numbers appear large, however, what is due and what is paid are two different figures.

For example, only 44.8 percent of parents received the full amount of child support. Moreover, of the $34.9 billion, only $21.9 billion was paid out. Which means that less than half of parents receive the full amount and those that do receive funds, they only receive around 60 percent.

All of this arithmetic implies that parents dependent on child support are more likely to utilize government services for public assistance and enforcement of their child support awards.

Failure to pay child support is a dangerous game to play. The government takes a dim view of parents that try to shirk their duties. If you are engaged in a dispute over child support, then you may want to speak to an attorney. These arguments are complicated and involve a broad range of facts from income levels and assets to what is in the best interests of the child. A lawyer can help you gather your evidence and present your best arguments.