In Illinois, more than one third of single mothers live in poverty. Research suggests that, although the economic recession is partially to blame, many mothers who have legal custody of their children are receiving little or no child support from the children’s fathers.
With reductions in public assistance programs and low childcare subsidies, mothers who do not receive adequate help from fathers through support agreements often accept low-paying work to meet everyday expenses. In many cases, even when holding two or three jobs, these women cannot earn enough income for food, housing, education and medical expenses. These jobs do not usually offer benefits such as medical insurance or sick leave, two factors that could provide some relief. Even worse, the potential for work advancement has eroded for them. The cost and time required for single mothers to complete their own schooling is frequently prohibitive.
For the custodial parent, financial situations can change rapidly. A current child custody and support plan may not address unexpected changes such as a debilitating car accident or cervical cancer — a plight described by one woman profiled in a recent news story. In addition, delinquent child support payments from fathers can aggravate the problems.
Single mothers under financial stress should be aware of their rights. For example, child support often can be increased to ease their financial burdens. Agreement modification is common, and monthly payments from fathers can be raised through the legal process. Court involvement can also correct the failure to pay child support by fathers who are unwilling to contribute.
Source: Chron.com, “Figures show struggle worsening for single mothers,” Renee Lee, Sept. 4, 2012
Our firm helps single parents with support agreements, from initial negotiation through modifications. To learn more about what we do, please go to our Lake County child support page.