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Child support is a major source of income for many parents

According to census data, parents in California and other states who fulfill custodial roles often rely heavily on child support payments from noncustodial parents. Alternate forms of assistance include forms of aid such as clothing, food and medical expense coverage. More than 61 percent of custodial parents received one or more types of non-cash assistance in 2013.

In 2013, child support accounted for 17.7 percent of the personal income of custodial parents who received all of the payments that they were owed. Those below the poverty line could count on up to 70.3 percent of their personal income coming from support if all payments were received.

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion say that raising a child to adulthood can cost close to $250,000. The Census Bureau also highlighted the importance of assistance for the more than 22 million children below the age of 21 who resided with just one of their parents. Although the percentage of custodial parents who actually received all the payments they were due was higher in 2013 than it was in 1993, it was still less than half of the total who were entitled to cash support.

Custodial parents who make their own support arrangements or rely on courts to do so still aren't guaranteed full payment. Families may find it necessary to seek formal child support enforcement assistance from courts or municipalities. While some non-custodial parents are truly unable to meet their obligations due to unforeseen financial setbacks, many others simply refuse to honor their obligations. A family law attorney can often be of assistance to a custodial parent who has not been paid what is legally owed.

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