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The importance of enforcing child support payments

As the Federal Child Support Enforcement Program continues to improve, getting more money for more families within the system, the number of single-parent households involved with the program has dropped. In 2014, fewer than 50 percent of custodial parents who were eligible to have child support agreements had them in place. Many of these single parents in Massachusetts and throughout the country may have lower incomes than two-parent households, and this can have an impact on the quality of a child's life, according to reports.

When one parent receives child support, the child's life is enhanced in a number of ways. Parents who pay child support also tend to be more engaged with their children, so children whose parents are paying child support generally have a relationship with both parents.

Households that are receiving child support usually have more income than those that do not, and as a result, children have access to more resources. Custodial parents are not managing everything on their own, and this makes them less stressed. Children in homes where child support is being paid have fewer problems with behavior and improved cognitive development.

The advantage of a legal child support agreement is that it puts a mechanism in place that allows a parent to pursue unpaid support. Parents who are struggling to collect child support from the other parent should not deny that parent access to the child if the parent is permitted access by the court. Visitation and delinquent child support payments are not supposed to be linked in this way, and other methods, such as garnishing wages, are used to enforce support payments.

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