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National Decrease in Child Support Payments Presumed for 2010

In previous posts, the importance of a child custody and visitation plan has been discussed. A divorce is difficult not only on the couple that is choosing to separate, but also hard on any children the couple may have. In some custody arrangements, one parent has primary custody and is responsible for the everyday needs of the child.

In those situations, the other parent usually has to pay child support to the primary custodial parent. The average amount of monthly child support is around $250, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But with the economic recession, the amount of child support being paid is decreasing each year.

While an official report is yet to be made for 2010, it is believed that the trend of decreasing payments that was seen in 2009 will likely be true of last year as well. In 2009, the total amount of child support payments dropped from the year before for the first time in over 30 years.

The states are able to collect some payments by garnishing wages or taking money out of unemployment checks. But even with those options, the amount of child support payments is still decreasing.

There are a few factors believed to contribute to the decrease in collected payments:

  • Rising unemployment rates: parents who find themselves without a job are sometimes unable to make steady support payments.
  • Payment reductions: states are discovering that more noncustodial parents can and do get their monthly child support payment reduced.
  • Personal bankruptcy: more individuals are filing for bankruptcy.

While some states have allowed for reduced payments due to a job loss, it is still difficult on both parents, including the custodial parent who may also be struggling financially.

Source: Daily Finance online, "Another Victim of the Great Recession: Child Support Payments," Danny King, 01 January 2011

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