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What to know about child support in America

There is a perception among many in Virginia and throughout the country that custodial parents receive too much support. However, this isn't necessarily the case. According to the January 2016 version of the Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support report, there are 13.4 million single custodial parents. Of those individuals, 48.7 percent have a child support agreement with the child's other parent.

About 89.8 percent of those agreements are formal and legally binding. Individuals who receive child support get less than $500 per month on average. Over the course of a year, they will receive $5,774, and there was a total of $32.9 billion in child support owed in 2013. However, those who were due child support payments only received about $3,950 per year, which is 68.5 percent of the actual average amount owed by noncustodial parents.

In 2013, 45.6 percent of single custodial parents who were awarded support received the full amount owed. That was an increase from 43.4 percent in 2011. Conversely, 25.9 percent of custodial parents did not receive any support owed. In 2011, 61.7 percent of custodial parents received support that was not in the form of cash payments. During 2013, 31.4 percent of custodial single fathers received support from the child's mother. In that same year, 52.3 percent of single custodial mothers received support.

When determining child support, a court will look at a variety of factors to ensure that the child's best interest is being preserved. However, using collaborative family law or similar techniques, parents may work together to create a parenting plan of their own. In many cases, a court will abide by the plan as long as it adequately cares for the child.

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