Most custodial parents don’t receive full payments


A fresh report from the U.S. Census Bureau offers a snapshot of child support in the U.S., finding:

  • A bit less than half of custodial-parent families have court orders or other financial agreements that obligated financial support from absent parents.
  • Almost 46% of custodial-parent families owed child support in 2013 received all due payments, up from 37% two decades earlier. See above chart.
  • Among custodial parents who received financial child support, the average monthly amount was $330 per month, almost 70% of the $480 due.

Cash isn’t the only support for kids

But cash isn’t the only way parents can help support kids. Last year the Journal of Marriage and Family took up the issue of “deadbeat dads,” or fathers who provide little or zero cash to support their kids. The study found some of these men do, in fact, offer valuable goods, such as clothing, gifts and food. Of note, while there are “deadbeat moms,” too, more than eight-in-10 of custodial parents are mothers, government data show.

According to the Census report, absent parents supplied non-cash support to almost 62% of custodial parents, offerings gifts, clothes, diapers, food, etc.


Low-income dads provided an average of $60 per month per child in non-cash goods, according to the study in the Journal of Marriage and Family. The authors interviewed more than 300 low-income noncustodial fathers in Austin, Texas; Philadelphia, and Charleston, S.C. between 1996 and 2003.

“I was really surprised by how much these disadvantaged guys, these truly marginally employed men, are putting all of this thought and what little resources they have into showing their children that they care,” said Kathryn Edin, a study co-author and sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University.

While non-cash support has its limitations, offering goods can provide non-custodial parents interaction with their kids.

“If fathers ‘come by’ on a routine basis to deliver the goods on which mothers rely, they can purchase regular access to the child,” the authors wrote.




One thought on “Most custodial parents don’t receive full payments”

  1. I believe if a mother can not afford to take care of a child without support I don’t believe she should have custody. I do believe child support is important I just believe the money a time gets in the way of both parties being a parent to the child. Being a non-custodial parent can get you out the loop of the day to day need of the child. I feel it is important that both parties should be involved in buy clothes and in school work. I have 3 son by 3 different women. I have custody of my oldest and the other 2 live with their mother’s. I have a great relationship with my middle son mom she does receive child support and when my son need thing for school or after school actives she gives me 2 week to a month notice so I have time to get what the child needs. I also volunteer to pay for things without her even asking. My youngest son mother lies in court to get extra money she bring in her rent recipients and write child care on them and says my
    9 year son goes to child care when he really doesn’t. All of this is just to get extra money. For this one child I pay just a little under a thousand dollars. I have no problem take care of my child. I believe the courts need to do a better job of setting up child support amounts


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