Contact: Patricia Buscher
Public Information Office
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(301) 763-3762 (fax)
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Child-Support Receipt Up; Reliance on Public Assistance Down
More child support is being received, and a rise in employment rates of custodial parents match a decline in participation in public assistance programs, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The report, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2003, [PDF] reveals that 7 million custodial parents received 69 percent of the money owed to them by the noncustodial parent. Thirty percent were receiving assistance from the government. This was an improvement from 1999, when custodial parents were collecting just 59 percent of the money. Forty-one percent were relying on public help in 1993.
Full-time, year-round employment for custodial parents rose from 46 percent in 1993 to 54 percent in 2003. In this time frame, the proportion of mothers receiving welfare fell from 26 percent to 8 percent, reaching a low of 6 percent in 2001.
- Custodial parents who were owed child support in 2003 were due an average of $5,100 each — a total of $37 billion. They were able to collect an average of $3,500 each, or $25 billion total.
- About 45 percent of custodial parents due child support received the full amount, and about 76 percent received at least some child support in 2003.
- More than half (59 percent) of all custodial parents received some type of noncash support — such as gifts, clothes or food — in addition to or in lieu of child support payments.
- In 2003, 1-in-4 custodial parents and their children were living below the poverty level. In 1993, 1-in-3 were living in poverty.
- As of spring 2004, an estimated 14 million parents had custody of 22 million children under age 21 whose other parent lived elsewhere. Five of every six custodial parents were mothers (83 percent).
- About 8 million custodial parents had some type of agreement or court award to receive financial support from the noncustodial parent for their children in 2004. The proportion of custodial mothers with child support agreements increased from 60 to 64 percent over the past 10 years.
- The age of custodial mothers rose between 1994 and 2004. In 1994, 25 percent were 40 years or older. By 2004, the number had grown to 37 percent.
- Fewer than one-third of custodial mothers had never married, 46 percent were currently divorced or separated, 22 percent were currently married and 2 percent were widows. Custodial fathers were less likely than mothers to never have married (20 percent).
- About 3 million noncustodial parents provided some type of health insurance for their children in 2003.
Most estimates in this report are from the 1994 through 2004 April biennial supplements to the Current Population Survey, cosponsored by the Census Bureau and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child Support Enforcement. Statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error.
For further information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates, including standard errors and confidence intervals, go to <http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/childsupport/source03.pdf>. [PDF]