While many people might still expect mothers to raise children when parents are unwed or after a divorce, data from the 2011 U.S. Census shows that 18.3 percent of custodial parents are men. Like single mothers, these fathers may be entitled to child support while raising a child or children. However, the census data indicates that fathers who are granted child support are less likely to receive it than mothers.
In 2011, 32 percent of fathers were not given any of the child support payments they were awarded, but only 25.1 percent of mothers did not receive any child support. Of the parents who do receive child support payments, only 43.6 percent of women and 41.4 percent of men were given the full amount of support they were owed. Fathers are less likely to receive child support, but single mothers with physical custody still appear to face more challenges overall.
Mothers were owed $12.1 billion in 2011 for unpaid child support while fathers were owed $1.7 billion. Women may need financial support more than men with physical custody do as custodial fathers generally have a higher average household income than custodial mothers, and fathers who do not receive payments still have an average income higher than fathers who do receive support. Mothers who do not receive the support they are owed have an average income that is lower than mothers who are paid child support.
The data from 2011 shows that parents who have sole physical custody are not always given the financial support they are owed. When a court order is in place, noncustodial parents have a legal obligation to pay child support. Courts and government agencies can help parents who are not receiving the money they are owed, and parents who owe child support should ask for a modification when a change of circumstances makes compliance difficult.
Source: fivethirtyeight.com, “Are Moms Less Likely Than Dads To Pay Child Support?”, Mona Chalabi, Feb. 26, 2015