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Massachusetts child support arrears: Help is available

Unpaid child support is a significant problem in Massachusetts today. Women all over the state are trying desperately to make ends meet on their incomes alone because the father of their child or children is not paying his court-ordered child support payments. Unfortunately, many of those who are not receiving regular child support payments have a very difficult time in providing for their families.

A recent study by the Crittenton Women´s Union showed the median income for single mothers in Massachusetts to be only about $27,000. The economic independence calculator on their website allows a user to input her city, number of children and the children´s age range. According to the website, a single-parent household with two school-age children in Wellesley requires an annual income of $67,848, while the same calculation for Framingham and Newton gives a figure of $65,540. Both of these numbers are a far cry from the estimated median statewide income of $27,000 for single mothers.

By looking at real numbers, one can understand why an estimated 75 percent of single mothers in Massachusetts struggle to provide essentials for their families. Those mothers have to make hard decisions everyday about what is more important to them and their children. Some have to decide between food and housing. Some have to decide between child care and a chance at an education.

Fortunately, there is something that can be done for these women. If a mother is not receiving child support payments as ordered by the court, enforcement measures can be pursued under federal and Massachusetts laws. While the Crittenton Women's Union study focused on single mothers, the fact is that any custodial parent - regardless of gender - has the right to seek help to compel an errant noncustodial parent to pay what is owed. Those affected do not have to face these issues alone, and some may take comfort in knowing that help is just around the corner.

Source:, "Single Mothers Struggle in Massachusetts," March 22, 2013

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