According to data from the Census Bureau, a substantial amount of child support that was owed to custodial parents in 2011 was not received.


In 2011, only 62% of the nearly $38 billion owed to custodial parents was actually paid, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. The study found that the total child support amount was more often paid in cases when the child had contact with the noncustodial parent. Approximately 50% of custodial parents received the total owed amount among cases when children were able to contact their noncustodial parents. In the cases when children did not have contact with their noncustodial parents, less than 31% of custodial parents received the full amount.


Timothy Grall, a survey statistician with the income transfers division of the Census Bureau, said that these numbers suggest that allowing for interaction may be the best financial move.


"The more contact a child has with the noncustodial parent, the more likely they are to be the beneficiary of the full financial support they are due," said Grall.


The poll found that, in addition to contact, there are other factors associated with recipients getting the full amount of child support, such as having a college degree, being divorced and being over the age of 40. Meanwhile, characteristics corresponding with those who did not receive the full amount included having less than a high school degree, never having married and being under 30 years old.


In 2012, roughly one-quarter of custodial parents contacted child support services or the federal government in order to receive financial assistance. This figure is down significantly from 1994, when more than 42% of parents made contact with similar organizations.


While custodial parents come in many forms, they are frequently grandparents. Overall, there are 2.5 million grandparents serving as the legal guardians of nearly 8 million children, according to statistics collected by AARP. Additionally, 1 million children live in homes where the grandparent is the only parenting figure. These families are often referred to as "grandfamilies."