Child Support and Alimony: 1989

The number of women living with children whose fathers were away was 9,955,000 in the spring of 1990, a 39 percent increase in just over a decade.1 Approximately 16 million children with absent fathers lived in these households. Currently, 26 percent of all children are born to unmarried mothers.2 There is great concern about the low income and associated high poverty rates of these mothers and the impact on their children.

This report contains information about receiving support payments for women after a divorce or separation, as well as receiving child support payments for children of unmarried women. It contains information on: 1) the award and actual receipt of child support payments to women for the benefit of their children, 2) the receipt of child support payments for their own support, and 3) the receipt and manner of property division for divorced women. The questions were not asked of men with children born to absent mothers because the survey sample size was insufficient to provide reliable statistics for this population.

The data presented in this report are derived from supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS). Estimates for 1990 are based on females ages 15 and older. Estimates for 1986 and earlier are based on females ages 18 and older. Two estimates from 1988 are included in this report: one based on females ages 18 and older and is consistent with earlier estimates, and another (1988r) is based on females ages 14 and older to facilitate comparisons between 1988 and 1990.

The Bureau of the Census, under joint sponsorship with the Department of Health and Human Services, first conducted a survey specifically designed to obtain data on child support and alimony in the spring of 1979. The survey was subsequently conducted, with minor modifications, in 1962, 1984, 1986, 1988, and 1990 by the Bureau of the Census and sponsored in part by the Office of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services. Data from previous reports were presented in Current Population Reports, Series P-23, Nos. 112, 140, 148, 154, and 167. Summary statistics from all previous surveys are presented in Tables A, B, E, F, K, and M of this report.

1 women aged 18 and over.
2 NCHS Monthly Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 39, No. 4, August 1990.

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