Some custodial parents in California must deal with the negative stigma that comes with being a single parent receiving child support. Research shows a different reality than what’s often portrayed. According to the report “Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support,” many parents receive far less monetary support than they are owed.

According to research, there are 13.4 million single parents who have custody of their children. Only about half of these parents have a child support agreement in place. Approximately 22 percent have taken steps to have their child support agreements enforced due to failure to pay. Only 10 percent of child support agreements have been created between the two parents without legal contracts. According to one report, 52 percent of single mothers were awarded child support by the court.

In 2013, nearly $32.9 billion in outstanding child support was owed. On average, the amount owed by a parent is $5,774 annually, but the custodial parent only receives an average of $3,950 each year in assistance for raising a child. Most single parents with custody only receive about $329 each month for child support.

Partial payments are commonplace. Research shows that only 45.6 percent of custodial parents receive the child support they were owed. Approximately 26 percent receive none of the child support due to them while 28.5 percent receive some of the child support.

In a case where child support is needed to help with medical needs and extracurricular support, a family attorney may be consulted. This is generally recommended earlier on to avoid any discord or misunderstandings later. An attorney may be able to help with anything from settling a child support dispute or collecting delinquent payments to drafting a child support agreement. An attorney’s goal is to look out for the best interests of the child.