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Child support by the numbers: Who isn't paying?

Florida parents may be interested in child support numbers that don't support traditional beliefs about who isn't paying. According to 2011 data from the United States Census Bureau, over $14 billion in child support was owed and unpaid at the time the census numbers were calculated. According to an expert from fivethirtyeight.com, the 2011 census data was the most current available as of a March 2015 interview with NPR.

The expert noted that the data included details about the breakdown of who owed child support, and she was surprised to see that moms who are ordered to pay child support are less likely statistically to do so than dads. The expert noted that this seemed counterintuitive to cultural beliefs. According to the report, 25 percent of moms with custody reported not receiving any of the support they had been awarded. That contrasts with 32 percent of dads.

This doesn't mean more moms aren't paying than dads, says the expert, since dads are more likely to be ordered to pay support. It means that moms who are ordered are less likely to comply, which the expert says may be attributed to the lower average income of custodial moms. According to the census numbers, custodial moms have an income on average that is around half that of custodial dads. The expert says dads with higher incomes may not actually pursue the support awarded to them.

The director of the Child and Family Research at a major university suggested another reason moms may be less likely to pay. Though social norms are shifting, she notes that for a dad to gain custody in many cases, the mom is likely to be in a bad situation. Such situations may involve drugs or unemployment, making it less possible for the mom to make support payments.

While these numbers are interesting to consider, when you are struggling to raise children without proper support, you are most concerned with your situation. There are legal options for seeking support from the other parent, regardless of whether they are the mom or dad.

Source: NPR, "Who Fails To Pay Child Support? Moms, At A Higher Rate Than Dads" Mar. 01, 2015

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