California residents may not be aware that across the U.S. around 40 percent of children are born to single parents. This number has been increasing over the past couple of decades. In 2000, for instance, a third of children were born to parents who were not married. As the number of children born to single parents has gone up, the percentage of eligible parents who seek child support has decreased.
Children who come from single-parent homes are three times likelier than their peers to be poor. Single parents tend to be younger, have less education and fewer job prospects than married parents. While many absent parents support their children, others do not. Some of them don’t pay child support because they are also poor, but absent parents should be expected to pay.
In 2004, 60 percent of eligible parents had formal child support agreements. By 2014, the percentage had fallen to 49 percent. The federal Child Support Enforcement Program was enacted almost four decades ago and was made stronger in 1996. More parents should be encouraged to participate with child support enforcement so that they can get the child support that they need to provide for the financial needs of their children.
While it is true that some noncustodial parents simply refuse to meet their court-ordered obligations, others simply are unable to do so. In many cases it is because of an unexpected financial downturn, such as a medical emergency or a job loss. In these cases, the parent might want to meet with an attorney to see if seeking a modification of the order would be possible.