Some California parents may be eligible for child support but might not have a formal agreement in place. A study has found that fewer eligible families are participating in the federal Child Support Enforcement Program than in previous years. In 2004, 60 percent of eligible custodial parents had formal child support agreements. By 2014, that percentage had dropped to less than 50 percent although the people who are participating tend to get more assistance than in the past.
This has serious implications for child development and outcomes. Receiving child support is linked to children having better relationships with the parent paying support, better behavior and improved cognition. Less stress for single parents translates to a better environment and better outcomes for the child. Children also do better when they have more access to resources.
Some parents are unable to pay much in child support. However, the idea behind the federal enforcement program is that parents have a responsibility to support their children. The program may need to be revamped in order to assist parents in finding work or in other ways, but some experts argue that letting the obligation for child support fall by the wayside does a disservice to children.
Issues around child custody and support can be difficult for many families going through a divorce whether or not financial concerns are an added worry. Parents may disagree on how they will share custody. Older children might have their own ideas about which parent they want to live with. Mediation might be one way to resolve these conflicts. With a mediator, parents can work toward a cooperative solution as opposed to making it a battle in court. If one parent is struggling with paying child support at a later date, an attorney could assist in requesting a modification.