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Divorce Leaves Kids In Poverty Few Non-Custodial Parents Pay Full Child Support

Only about a quarter of parents without custody make full child-support payments, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report that underscores the vast amount of uncollected support and its strong link to poverty in this country.

The report, based on surveys conducted in 1992, found that fewer than half of parents who do not have custody of their children pay any child support.

“This report shows the unmistakable need for a strong child-support enforcement system in our country,” Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala said in a prepared statement. “It is shameful and unacceptable that so many of our children should be living without the support of both parents.”

The new figures come as Congress debates how to improve child-support enforcement and incorporate such measures into welfare-reform legislation. In a welfare bill approved in March, the House included several provisions to try to improve enforcement.

Of mothers raising children without the father in the home, 35 percent live in poverty, more than four times the figure for married couples with children, the report said.

Poverty rates are even higher among mothers who do not have court-ordered child-support awards. Nearly half - 49 percent - of that group is poor.

The problem of child-support collection is heightened by the relatively low number of custodial parents who have gone through the legal process of securing a childsupport agreement or award. Of the 11.5 million families where one parent is not living in the household, only 54 percent, or 6.2 million, had child-support awards or agreements in place.

Even among those who do have such awards, payment is low: About a quarter received no payment, another quarter received partial payment and about half received the full amount.

Only 13 percent of custodial fathers live in poverty, compared with 35 percent of mothers. families.

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