Many California parents receive or seek child support from a former spouse. Child support is both a necessary and a legal requirement for any parent. This includes not only divorced parents but also absent parents who may never have been married. The federal Child Support Enforcement Program made it clear that the government expects all parents to provide financial support to child regardless of marital status or other factors.
Absentee parents are unfortunately common in modern society. According to an online article, up to 40 percent of children are born to parents outside of wedlock. While some of these parents do eventually get married or stay together in a cohabiting relationship, the majority of parents end up or remain separated. Children born to unmarried couples commonly end up in the primary care of the mother who must seek child support from a distant father.
The research has shown that paying child support does more than just provide money to care for a child. It has the important side-effect of increasing the actual parenting time the child receives from the absent parent. Enforcing child support payments from an absent parent provides the child with better relationships with both parents. A quality relationship with both parents is found to be equally important to the child's wellbeing as having money and resources for daily life and activities.
A lack of marital status can make it more difficult to obtain child support. Child support payments are often included as part of a divorce agreement. When there is no such agreement, a parent may not fully understand the options and other programs available to them to obtain or enforce child support. There may also be issues surrounding parentage. A parent can take legal steps to determine parentage and obtain child support from an unwilling absent parent.