Characteristics of Families Using Title IV-D Services in 1997. Demographics


Gender of Custodial Parent

The vast majority of families in the IV-D system are headed by custodial mothers. There were over 7.5 million IV-D families headed by females in 1997, making up 90 percent of all families receiving IV-D services (Table 5). Only about 840,000 families headed by fathers were in the IV-D caseload. However, while families headed by custodial fathers made up only 10 percent of IV-D families, custodial fathers headed nearly a quarter (22 percent) of child support-eligible families not receiving IV-D services. In addition, custodial fathers were less likely than custodial mothers to depend on public assistance; 58 percent of IV-D families headed by men were receiving no public assistance in 1997, compared to 36 percent of female-headed IV-D families.

Marital Status of Custodial Parent

Among all custodial parents of IV-D families in 1997, 38 percent had never been married, while 41 percent were divorced or separated, 19 percent were currently married, and a small number had been widowed. By contrast, a much lower percentage (18 percent) of non IV-D parents had never been married (Table 6). Of all families headed by a never-married parent, about three-fourths were participating in the IV-D program. Never-married parents also made up a high percentage of the IV-D family heads who also received TANF cash assistance in 1997 (54 percent). Of those families not receiving IV-D services, a large majority 81 percent were headed by parents who were divorced, separated, or currently married.

Residence of Noncustodial Parent

The data indicate that the custodial parent and noncustodial parent did not live in the same state in nearly 2.3 million IV-D families, comprising 27 percent of the IV-D caseload (Table 7). The percentage of interstate cases was not substantially different within the IV-D caseload than out of it (27 percent versus 24 percent). Within the IV-D caseload, custodial mothers receiving TANF or other public assistance were no more likely than those not receiving public assistance to report that the noncustodial parent lived in a different state. However, among those not receiving IV-D services, custodial parents who reported receiving non-cash government assistance were slightly less likely than those not receiving assistance to live in a different state than the noncustodial parent (68 percent as compared to 77 percent).