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Is the Economy to Blame for Declining Child Support Payments?

The effect of an economic recession is felt by many. Some people experience it when they lose their jobs while others lose their homes. Regardless of how the recession impacts people, many Americans are being affected one way or another.

When a couple gets divorced, there are a lot of things that need to be worked out. One thing that the couple has to agree on is a custody arrangement if they have children. In some cases, one parent is awarded primary custody and the other parent agrees to pay child support in order to help with the everyday costs of raising a child.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2009 child support payments decreased nationally for the first time in over 30 years. Though an official report for this past year has not been released, this decline is believed to be true of 2010 as well.

So why are payments decreasing? Simply put, the economic recession seems to have played a big role in parents' inability to pay child support. Specifically, the unemployment rate has increased in the past few years. A noncustodial parent who lost their job is unable to make steady support payments.

In addition, noncustodial parents who are unemployed are able to get their payment amounts reduced. The current average monthly payment is approximately $250. Reduced payments mean that custodial parents are getting a smaller check each month to pay for their child's daily needs.

States have a few options when trying to collect child support payments. The state has the ability to garnish wages from noncustodial parents who owe child support; the state can also take money out of unemployment checks. But even so, collecting payments remains a challenge. Ultimately, both parents and the child are affected.

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

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