When it comes to single parent households, the typical perception that society has is that the father has skipped out on the family for some reason, leaving the mother to raise the children. These dads, often called “Deadbeat Dads” because they don’t even pay child support, do create a problem for society because many kids don’t have the resources they really deserve.
In 2012, there was over $100 billion in unpaid child support payments.
The average cost to society at large because of deadbeat parents, including mothers in this figure, is over $53 billion per year. That means the economy would see an increase of over $150 billion if parents would just get their acts together to support their children. There are, of course, fathers out there who want to support their children and just don’t have the ability to do so. There is a big difference, however, between a father trying to support his children and a father who is simply ignoring them.
Facts to Know Right Now About Deadbeat Dads
1. 34.1% of fathers in the United States are under an order to pay child support to their children right now.
2. Only 72.9% of children are actually receiving the child support that they have been court ordered to receive.
3. The most common reason why fathers decide not to pay child support is because they don’t receive any visitation rights.
Takeaway: Although there are some families that do benefit from a divorce, the vast majority of children within a family end up being hurt by the process. Now add in the fact that there are deadbeat dads who are also hurt by the process and refuse to pay child support and you’re left with children who feel like their father no longer loves them. Is it better for a child to be away from an abusive father? Absolutely – even if that father becomes a deadbeat dad. On the other hand, many of the issues of child support would be resolved with more compromise and integrity which just doesn’t exist on either side of the equation.
Why is Solving This Problem so Important?
1. 40.9% of single mothers were living below the poverty line in 2011, which was more than 5 times the amount of married or couple families.
2. 15.6% of children today are living in a single parent family because of divorce.
3. 80% of single parent households are run by the mother and not the father.
4. 30% of single mothers have more than 1 child for whom they are responsible.
5. Out of all the single mothers, 45% of them were never married.
6. Single mothers who have a child while unmarried are at the greatest risk of being homeless and living in poverty.
7. Only 60% of single mothers are employed on a full-time basis.
Takeaway: The ability for a single mother to find meaningful work is the most difficult part of the equation when it comes to a single parent household. This is why a child support order is so critical to the success or failure of today’s children. With 15% of kids today living in a single parent home because of a divorce, combine this with 40% of mothers not even being able to work full time and it is understandable why single mothers are at the greatest risk today for poverty. For the little bit of income that they have, 33% of those resources are automatically sent to child care.
How Can This Problem be Fixed?
1. There are 15 million children right now that are being raised without a father.
2. Only 33% of single mothers are able to work from home so they can limit their child care expenditures.
3. 25% of single mothers right now are out of work and either fully dependent on child support or other supports, such as unemployment.
4. Only 1 out of 3 single mothers receive $300 or more in child support per month.
5. 63% of child suicides occur from homes that do not have a father.
6. 90% of children who choose to runaway or become homeless come from homes that do not have a father.
7. Kids who grow up in a home with a single mother only are 20 times more likely to end up in prison.
Takeaway: The simplest way for the problem to be fixed is to have a father in the picture. Although there will always likely be deadbeat dads out there, that doesn’t mean that kids must pay the price for their father’s lack of responsibility. Other men can stand in for a deadbeat dad to provide mentorship, support, and counseling so that the 15 million children in fatherless homes don’t have the increased risks of suicide, homelessness, or prison time. Even something as simple as paying child support on time reduces these risks.
What Could Reduce the Risks?
1. Over 90% of the fathers who are ordered to pay child support do so when they receive joint custody of their children.
2. Only 44.5% of fathers who receive no visitation rights choose to pay court ordered child support.
3. 25% of single mothers with full custodial support don’t receive any child support because the father cannot afford to pay it.
4. 20% of single mothers have made agreements with fathers outside of the court system to pay for child needs.
5. There are 11% of single mothers that do not have any child support orders whatsoever.
6. Deadbeat dads account for 7% of the cases of child support not being paid. That translates into 1 out of every 14 families.
Takeaway: Although deadbeat dads are more of the minority, their impact on society is a major one. If 93 out of every 100 dads are taking care of their responsibilities, then these fathers need to be honored in some way. This recognition won’t solve the problems that deadbeat dads cause, of course, but it will encourage the good things they are doing. Every supported child has the chance to make a difference, which means society’s encouragement is needed to help make this happen.