More children are born to unmarried parents

A large number of children in Illinois live in homes headed by single parents. The trend for children to be born to unmarried parents has increased over time, and today, around 40 percent of all babies that are born are born to unmarried people. In 2000, around one-third of all children who were born had parents who were unmarried.

The trend for more children to be born out of wedlock has several implications. Children of single parents are three times more likely to be poor than children who live with both of their parents. Unmarried parents tend to have lower levels of educational attainment, fewer job prospects and to be younger. Child support may help to fill in the gap so that single parents can meet their financial needs along with the needs of their children.

Child support enforcement programs were given added strength in 1996, but fewer people who are eligible are getting help from the programs. In 2004, 60 percent of eligible single parents had child support agreements through their states’ child support enforcement programs. By 2014, that number had dropped to 49 percent of people participating.

Courts believe that it is in the best interests of children for both of their parents to contribute to their upbringing. Absent parents should not have any less responsibility for providing for their children than custodial parents do. Single parents may ask that child support orders be entered so that they may get the help that they need. A family law attorney may help his or her client with filing a motion for child support. He or she might also help with securing a wage garnishment if an absent parent is delinquent or has failed to pay his or her child support.

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