December 2017 | Congressional Research Service, Carmen Solomon-Fears

Child Support: An Overview of Census Bureau Data on Recipients

The national Census Bureau data show that in 2013, 13.4 million parents had custody of children under the age of 21 while the other parent lived elsewhere, and the aggregate amount of child support received was $22.5 billion. In 2013, almost 83% of custodial parents were mothers. Of all custodial parents, 48% were white (non-Hispanic), 25% were black, 23% were Hispanic, 16% were married, 33% were divorced, 38% were never married, 13% did not have a high school diploma, almost 20% had at least a bachelor’s degree, 50% worked full-time year-round, 29% had family income below poverty, and nearly 43% received some type of public assistance. In 2013, 2.6 million (40%) of the 6.5 million custodial parents with child support orders actually received the full amount of child support that was owed to them. The average yearly child support payment received by custodial parents with payments was $5,181 for mothers and $6,526 for fathers. These full or partial payments represented about 16% of the custodial mothers’ total yearly income and 9% of the custodial fathers’ yearly income. Compared to 1993 Census data, less child support was received by custodial parents in 2013 ($24.8 billion in 1993 versus $22.5 billion in 2013; in 2013 dollars). However, a higher percentage of those owed child support actually received all that they were due (36.9% in 1993 versus 45.6% in 2013).

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