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Child support can save children from living in poverty

When the conversation turns to divorce, people are keen to know about why the couple is breaking up and the emotional struggle they are going through. What is not always discussed is the children's welfare. Yet ensuring the well-being of the children by providing timely child support payments is a parental responsibility even if the family is apart.

Child support helps to keep children out of poverty. According to the executive director of an emergency family shelter, children living in single-parent households are more likely to suffer from poverty than those living with two parents. In fact, six out of 10 children from single-parent homes endure long-term poverty. Single poor parents rely on child support payments, which commonly comprise up to 39 percent of the household income. Timely child support payments, on average, reduce a single parent's household poverty by as much as 25 percent.

The problem starts when a parent, for whatever reason, fails to pay the monthly support. Of the roughly one million parents in Texas who are responsible for paying child support, 460,000 are at least a month behind in their monthly payments. Delinquent payments add up to $11 billion.

Child support is a family court decision that is based primarily on the child's needs and the paying parent's financial ability. In Texas, the Office of the Attorney General oversees child support enforcement and has the power to induce noncustodial parents to pay.

The future of children of divorced parents depends largely on their parents' decisions and actions. The failure to pay child support can cause hardship for a child, yet a paying parent may be going through a bad time and may have a good reason for not keeping up with the monthly payments. In such a case, the parent needs to ask the family court judge to modify the support amount.

Source: Valley Star, "Child Support Has Major Impact on Poverty," Bill Reagan, May 10, 2013

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