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Child support and absent parents

California couples who have not yet tied the knot may not know that children who live with single parents are three times more likely to live in poverty than children who reside with married parents. Single-parent households tend to have just one income and less earning potential than the households of married parents. Making sure that both parents contribute financially to the upbringing of their children is one way to reduce the economic stress associated with single-parent households.

The federal Child Support Enforcement Program works to ensure that children receive financial support from both of their parents. After the program was enhanced as part of the welfare reform law in 1996, there was a jump in the number of absent parents who contributed and more resources that were provided for children who were being raised by single custodial parents.

While the effectiveness of the program has continued to improve, its reach has declined. In 2014, just 49 percent of custodial parents eligible for child support had a formal agreement, while 60 percent of parents had such support agreements in 2004.

There is a strong link between child support and the reduced behavior problems and the improvement of cognitive development in children. Studies have shown that children who have access to more resources fare better. Research also shows that child support payments are linked to increased contact between children and their fathers, indicating that families who participate in the support program may have improved relationships.

Child support payments are often a crucial part of a single parent's household budget. When they are late or don't arrive at all, a family law attorney could suggest various ways of collection.

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