Child Support

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Child Support and Alimony: 1989

This report presents information on receipt of support payments by women following divorce or separation and receipt of child support payments for children of never-married women. It includes information on the award and actual receipt of child support payments by women for the benefit of their children. The questions were not asked of men with children from an absent mother as the survey sample size is insufficient to provide reliable statistics for this universe.

The data presented in this report were derived from supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS). Estimates for 1990 are based on women 15 years old and over. Estimates for 1986 and earlier years are based on women 18 years and over. Two sets of 1988 estimates are included in this report: one based on women 18 years and over that is consistent with earlier estimates, and another (1988r) based on women 14 years and over to facilitate 1988 through 1990 comparisons.

The Bureau of the Census, under joint sponsorship with the Department of Health and Human Services, first conducted a survey specifically designed to obtain data on child support in the spring of 1979. The survey, with minor modifications, was subsequently conducted in 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, and 1990 by the Bureau of the Census and sponsored, in part, by the Office of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services. Data from the earlier reports were presented in Current Population Reports, Series P-23, Nos. 112, 140, 148, 154, and 167. Summary statistics from all previous surveys are presented in tables A, B, E, and F of this report.

For further information, please call the Income Statistics Branch on (301) 763-3243 or visit  Link to a non-federal Web site.


(The figures in parentheses denote 90-percent confidence intervals.)

As of spring 1990, 10.0 (+ 0.4) million mothers age 15 and over were living with their own children under 21 years of age whose fathers were not living in the households. About 58 (+1.0) percent, or 5.7 (+0.3) million of these women were awarded child support payments.

The poverty rate for all women with children from absent fathers was 32 (+2.7) percent in 1989.

Of the 5.7 (+0.3) million women awarded child support, 5.0 (+0.3) million women were supposed to receive child support payments in 1989. Of the women due payments, about half received the full amount they were due. The remaining women were about equally divided between those receiving partial payment, and those receiving nothing.

The child support award rate for never-married women was 24 (+3.3) percent as of spring 1990; the award rate for ever-married women was 72 (+2.2) percent.

The majority of absent fathers, 55 (+2.1) percent, had visitation privileges with their children in 1990, another 7 (+1.1) percent had joint custody, but 38 (+2.0) percent had neither.

The mean (average) amount of child support received in 1989 was $2,995 (+$158), not significantly different than 1987 after adjustment for inflation.

The aggregate amount of child support received in 1989 was $11.2 (+$0.8) billion in 1989, 69 (+6.3) percent of the total $16.3 (+$1.0) billion due.

Health care benefits were included in the child support awards of 40 (+2.0) percent of mothers, however, only two-thirds of the absent fathers required to do so actually provided them.

Of the 4.2 (+0.3) million women who were never awarded child support payments, 64 (+2.2) percent wanted an award but did not obtain it for various reasons, 14 (+3.1) percent had final agreement pending or had made other arrangements, and the remaining 22 (+2.6) percent did not want a child support award.

As of spring 1990, 2.9 (+0.2) million women had, at some time, contacted a government agency for assistance in obtaining child support.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Child Support |  Last Revised: 2012-08-27T09:18:01.378-04:00