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Billions in child support goes unpaid

Divorce can bring on a whole host of contested legal issues such as property division, spousal support, and child custody. Perhaps one of the most disputed aspects of a divorce is child support. Reaching a child support settlement can be difficult, and many times must be argued for or against in front of a judge. Once a final determination is made, issues may arise when payments are incomplete or missing. The child may suffer as a result, and a failure to pay child support may lead to penalties for the owing parent.

The issue of unpaid child support is massive. According to the Census Bureau, only 62 percent of child support payments were actually paid to custodial parents in 2011. This means $14 billion in child support went unpaid. Contact with the child may be key in recovering support payments. In only 30.7 percent of all cases, the custodial parent received full payment when the child did not have contact with his or her noncustodial parent. In total, only 43.4 percent of custodial parents received full child support payments. The Census Bureau's study also found that older and educated parents were more likely to pay the child support they owed.

Raising a child can be expensive. Every day expenses, medical needs and extracurricular expenses can all add up quickly, making it difficult for one parent to pay for it all. Child support, therefore, should help alleviate some of the financial pressure and make the cost of raising a child equal amongst the parents. For this reason, it is important for those who have custody of a child to seek adequate support. A Phoenix family law attorney may be able to assist in this process.

While it is important for a child to receive the financial support he or she needs, it also may be harmful to the child to put the noncustodial parent in jail for non-payment of child support. Therefore, those who have found themselves in a financial predicament, whether because of sudden unemployment or an unexpected health condition, may be able to obtain a child support modification. This may ease the financial burden imposed on these individuals while allowing them to continue to contribute to their child's upbringing.

In the end, child support disputes are about supporting the best interests of the child. A family law attorney can help a parent assess these needs and aid in determining what can be done from a legal standpoint to further those interests.

Source: Highlands Today, "One-third of child support is uncollected Census Bureau: More than $14 billion owed to custodial parents," Dec. 20, 2013

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