More Child Support

Paid Promptly, Study Finds

The number of mothers receiving all the child support they were due increased by more than 25 percent during the late 1990s, the Census Bureau reported yesterday.

A strong economy and stricter enforcement prompted more fathers to pay in full, analysts said.

More than 2.8 million women collected all the child support they were owed, representing nearly 46 percent of all custodial mothers due payments in 1999. That was up from nearly 2.2 million, or almost 37 percent of the mothers owed support in 1993.

The report included other upbeat statistics for mothers raising children without a father at home. More custodial mothers worked, fewer lived in poverty and fewer collected public assistance during the six-year period. The welfare overhaul of 1996, which is up for renewal in Congress, nudged more single mothers off assistance rolls and into jobs.

Critics noted the report failed to paint an updated picture of life for single parents since the economy started to sour in 2000. "The problem we are seeing now is that so many people are struggling again," said Geraldine Jensen, president of the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support. "In a lot of ways it makes child support more important than ever."

The percentage of custodial mothers who received none of the child support due to them remained relatively unchanged at 25 percent between 1993 and 1999, though tougher enforcement measures were installed midway through that period.

Among custodial fathers, about 248,000 received the full amount of child support from an absentee mother. That was more than 37 percent of the total number of 2 million custodial fathers due money, relatively unchanged since 1993. More than 35 percent of custodial fathers in 1999 received none of the child support due, up from about 26 percent six years earlier, though the Census Bureau did not consider that change to be statistically significant.

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-- From News Services