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Child support issues and gender differences

New Jersey parents may face challenges when child support is owed but not payed. However, the issue of deadbeat parents is more commonly perceived as a problem involving fathers who fail to support their children. With more than 18 percent of custodial parents being fathers in 2011, statistics indicate that deadbeat moms could be a problem as well.

During 2011, custodial fathers received no support in at least 32 percent of cases, a significantly greater percentage than the 25 percent of custodial mothers not receiving support. Percentages are close when full child support payments are considered. On average, fathers only receive about 40 percent of the support due, while mothers receive approximately 52 percent. However, fathers who are awarded custody of their children typically have higher household incomes than custodial mothers. Mothers who have custody are more likely to be at or below the poverty level than fathers.

In many cases, formal child support orders don't exist. This is true for at least 75 percent of fathers and 50 percent of mothers. Fathers are more apt to explain the lack of an order based on the other parent's financial circumstances or partial care of the child. In some cases, the custodial parent is satisfied that the other party helps when possible. In other cases, there is an interest in minimizing contact with the other parent. Affluence may also play a role in support regardless of which parent is awarded custody.

Support issues are typically addressed during the divorce process as custody and other concerns related to children are considered. Difficulties in complying with a support order might prompt a support-owing parent to seek a modification at a later date, especially if a custodial parent pressures the non-paying parent with potential legal action.

Source: fivethirtyeight.com, "Are Moms Less Likely Than Dads To Pay Child Support?", Mona Chalabi, Feb. 26, 2015

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