Child support can help custodial parents make ends meet when they have to raise their kids alone. Despite the misconception that many single parents in Illinois live lavish lifestyles funded by their ex-spouses, the facts show the opposite. The mean amount of child support that custodial parents are court-ordered to receive is about $500 a month. More than half of the parents who are owed child support don’t receive the full amount. About a quarter don’t get any child support at all.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, only about half of the 13.4 million custodial single parents have a child support order. Noncustodial parents paid $32.9 billion in 2013, but that was only 68.5 percent of what was owed to the custodial parents. On average, custodial parents only receive about $329 a month to help with all of the expenses associated with raising their children.

Although mothers make up the majority of single parents, some children are raised by single fathers. Over half of all single mothers have been awarded child support by family law courts. About 30 percent of single fathers have asked for support from their children’s mothers.

The amount a parent is awarded in child support is typically based on a formula. The formula takes into account the income and expenses of both parents at the time the court makes the order. If either parent’s circumstances change, they may petition the court to modify the child support. An attorney who focuses on family law could help a parent determine whether they may be eligible for modification to a lesser amount and assist them throughout the court process. Statistics show that many noncustodial parents are unable to pay the amount ordered by judges. Modifying an order could make child support more affordable and reduce the risk of consequences for nonpayment.