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Moms struggle to get the child support they need

Although both men and women can be excellent caregivers, the majority of parents with primary custody are mothers. In Texas, these mothers can typically get child support whether they were ever married or not. But for many, getting that support is probably harder than it should be.

As of 2018, around 13.4 million parents of children younger than 21 live separate from their child's other parent. Mothers make up the majority of custodial parents -- five out of every six -- while fathers are usually expected to pay child support. However, that support is not always a given. Only half of moms with primary custody have support orders.

Many noncustodial parents do not treat child support as seriously as they should. A lot of dads -- and moms in some cases -- simply do not pay, and about 30% of all child support payments are never made. Fewer than half of custodial parents ever receive full support payments. This problem disproportionately affects women. Data from 2015 shows that nearly 30% of households with custodial mothers live in poverty, while the same is true for only 17% of households with custodial fathers.

Child support plays a crucial supporting role in children's lives, but it is not at all uncommon for noncustodial parents to either avoid paying in full or at all. Since children in Texas are entitled to receive financial support from both of their parents, custodial parents should consider their options for getting the support they need. In some cases, it might be enough to petition the court for a modification of a current order, which usually means raising or lowering the amount of monthly support. Others find that by asking the court to enforce existing orders.

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