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Child Support Statistics and Trends: What You Need to Know

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If you’re rowing your way through a child support battle or you’ve already navigated those rough waters, you know that they can be extremely difficult, exhausting, and harrowing. However, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, and you’ll see plenty of benefits on the horizon that you may not have anticipated. Whether you are exploring joint custody in Atlanta or seeking child support, there are some critical child support statistics that you should be aware of and keep in your informational arsenal.

Over 25% of children under 21 years of age have one parent living outside of their households, according to a study from the United States Census Bureau. The Census Bureau continued on to break down many additional statistics regarding child support for us, and they were also able to glean (and share) some interesting trends as well.

At Buckhead Family Law, we encourage all our clients to be proactive and knowledgeable. So, here are some of the highlights that we want to share with you:

21.9 Million Children Are Living with Custodial Parents

In the United States, there are 12.9 million custodial parents and 21.9 million children living with those parents (under the age of 21). This represents about 25% of all children living in the United States. Certain demographics seem to be more directly impacted than others.

Fathers Are Getting Primary Custody More Than Ever

Historically, mothers were thought to gain custody of their children much more often than fathers, and that was because they did. However, those numbers have been evolving and changing over the past few decades. According to the study:

  • Custodial parents have become more likely to be fathers over the past 24 years, increasing from 16.0 percent in 1994 to 20.1 percent in 2018.

However, in light of this information, it’s important to note that 4 out of every 5 of the 12.9 million custodial parents where mothers, and only one out of every five custodial parents were fathers. In the cases where the father was granted custody, they tended to be older (over 40 years old) than the mother. These fathers were also more likely to be divorced rather than just separated.

Children with Single-Parent Homes Are More Likely to Live in Poverty

Sadly, more children are living in poverty than ever before, and it has a distinct connection to living in a single-parent household. Approximately 30.1 percent of children living in a single-parent home were subjected to poverty, about three times the rate of children in households with both parents present (11.1 percent).

Fortunately, this is a trend that we are seeing slowly start to change for the better.

Custodial Parents & Child Support from Non-Custodial Parents

Out of all 12.9 million custodial parents taken into consideration during the study, nearly one-half (49.4%) received some sort of child support from the non-custodial parent. Of those, 88.2% reported that there were formal legal orders for the custody agreement. 11.8% had informal agreements or verbal understandings.

Of those agreements, custodial mothers were more likely to obtain court orders for child support. There were, however, a few different reasons presented explaining why some families did not legalize their child support agreements. These included:

  • 1% didn’t feel the need to make their agreement legally binding
  • 1% believed that the noncustodial parent provided what they could
  • 6% believed that the other parent could not pay child support
  • 3% did not want the other parent to pay
  • 3% did not want the other parent to pay because the child spent significant time with them
  • 9% did not have contact with the other parent
  • 7% did not know where the other parent was
  • 3% could not legally establish paternity

Indirect Child Support Payments Also Increasing in Popularity

While some still believe “cash is king,” many divorced parents have found there are other ways to pay or receive child support in addition to direct cash payments. In fact, in 2017, some 58% of custodial parents reported receiving at least one type of noncash support. The most common types of noncash support included:

  • Gifts for birthdays, holidays, or other occasions (55.2%)
  • Clothing (43.4%)
  • Food or Groceries (33.6%)
  • Medical Expenses (21.5%)
  • Child Care Costs
  • Diapers
  • Toys
  • School Supplies
  • Activity Costs

There is no disputing that the cost of raising a child in the United States continues to climb, along with child custody costs, so those with joint custody agreements in Atlanta will need to determine what kinds of additional costs are necessary in order to make sure that child support is properly calculated in accordance with the Georgia Child Support Worksheets.

Though knowledge gives you power, these trends may seem a bit overwhelming or even scary if you are currently discussing child custody or trying to craft a child support plan for your family. The good news is that you do not have to travel this road alone. At Buckhead Family Law, you can work with our experienced legal team that will support you and help you to figure out all these details (and more).

If you need to reevaluate or modify your child support agreement in Atlanta or you are just embarking upon your divorce and child custody and support journey, remember, we can help! This can be a confusing time in your life, but professional help is available. The Atlanta child custody and child support lawyers at Buckhead Family Law are here to assist you with your case and help this be a positive turning point for your family. Schedule a consultation by calling at 404-600-1403.

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