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About half (46.8 percent) of parents owed child support in 2007 received the full amount, while nearly one-third (29.5 percent) received only a portion of the total due and about one-quarter (23.7 percent) received none of the child support they were owed, according to a new national report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Of the $34.1 billion total child support owed, 62.7 percent was reported as received.
The report, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2007, [PDF] focuses on the child support income that custodial parents reported receiving from noncustodial parents living elsewhere, and other types of support, such as health insurance and noncash assistance.
These data were collected in April 2008 as part of a special survey conducted jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Support Enforcement.
"These figures show the importance of child support as income to families, especially those in poverty," said Carmen R. Nazario, assistant secretary for children and families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Our primary interest is making sure that children get the financial and medical support they need."
Among custodial parents, 24.6 percent had incomes below poverty, about twice as high as the overall poverty rate for the total population (12.5 percent). Among those who reported receiving child support, 18.2 percent were living in poverty.
On average, custodial parents received $3,350 annually, or about $280 per month, from the parents who owed support. Among custodial parents living below poverty who received support, child support represented 47.9 percent of their average income.
An estimated 13.7 million parents had custody of 21.8 million children under 21, while the other parent lived somewhere else. More than one-quarter (26.3 percent) of all children under 21 lived with only one parent.
Mothers accounted for the majority of custodial parents (82.6 percent), while 17.4 percent were fathers. One-third (34.2 percent) of custodial mothers had never been married, compared with 20.9 percent of custodial fathers who had never been married.
Custodial parents participating in the federal government's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (formerly Aid to Families with Dependent Children) fell to 4.3 percent in 2007, down from 22.0 percent in 1993.
Among white, non-Hispanic children in families, 22.4 percent lived with a custodial parent. The proportion of black children in families with a custodial parent was 48.2 percent. Among children of other races, including American Indians and Alaska Natives, and Asians and Pacific Islanders, 16.1 percent lived in a custodial-parent family. Approximately one-quarter (25.4 percent) of Hispanic children lived with a custodial parent.