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How does child support affect the economic status of families?

Child support, by its name, suggests that it caters to the financial needs of the child, whether it is every day needs, education or medical and dental expenses. However, child support also has a greater financial impact on the household itself. Washington State custodial parents who deal with delayed payments, or worse, non-payments will have to earn twice as much to cover the lacking expenses. Ideally, working harder can cover the delinquencies. However, a recent child support study reports otherwise.

According to the study, only 62 percent of order child support payments are paid. This means that one out of four children in the United States is deprived of much needed child support. Pennsylvania, due to its automated child support systems, had the highest collection in the country, reaching almost 90 percent. While Washington State's percentage was around 65 percent, just close to the national average.

While this may be just figures to some people, it does provide some stark conclusions. One is that the poorer the state, the more likely child support payments are down. Second, families who do not receive child support can find themselves not on the poverty line, but below it. Statistics from 2011 showed that 27 percent of parents who were supposed to receive the monthly payments lived below the poverty line. Of the figure, 27 percent did not receive any payments and 40 percent was able to receive full child support. Also, poor parents relied on child support to cover over half of their yearly income.

The statistics clearly show the impact of child support, not just in the life of a child, but the family as a whole. To avoid this, Washington State parents should not only pay child support, but pay it on time. If a parent encounters problems making payments, seeking legal guidance is the best course of action.

Source: The Washington Post, "How our child support system can push the poor deeper into poverty," Jeff Guo, Sept. 26, 2014

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