The number of children born into unmarried households has increased by almost 10 percent since 2000. Approximately 40 percent of children are born to unmarried parents. A small percentage of those families remain together in cohabiting relationships or eventually get married. However, many of them separate, leaving the children with only one custodial parent. It can be difficult to collect child support from an absent parent in this situation. Laws in both Minnesota and at the federal level make it clear that regardless of marriage status, parents are still expected to help care for any children they bring into the world.
The federal Child Support Enforcement Program is the primary means of helping unmarried single parents obtain child support. Although the program has functioned well since its inception in 1996, the number of eligible families in the program declined in 2014.
Research data suggests that obtaining proper child support from an absent parent is a critical part of a child’s success and well-being. Beyond the obvious financial concerns, the data suggests that parent involvement increases when child support is obtained. This is especially true among absent fathers who tend to become more involved in all aspects of the child’s life when they are in the program. Obtaining child support gives the child in question access to both more financial resources and better relationships.
Despite the government programs available to help parents obtain child support, the process can still be complicated or confusing for many parents. Determining child support payments is also a complicated financial process that takes into account many sources of income and expense. A parent who is having difficulty obtaining a child support agreement from an absent parent may want to seek the help of a divorce attorney. The lawyer might be able to help the parent with paperwork, filing guidelines and determining a reasonable amount of child support.