Those of us lucky enough to have (or have had) great dads are well aware of all the support they provide.
There are the traditional demonstrations, like teaching us to dance (like the dad above, sort of) or ride a bicycle and later to drive a car.
And of course, there is Dad’s perpetually open wallet, especially for us daughters who will always be our fathers’ little girls.
But families have changed over the years.
More single fathers: Of the 72.2 million fathers in the United States, just more than a third (34 percent) were married and living in families with children younger than 18. Those figures (and all the others I’ll cite in this post) are from data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.
A small segment of those pops — around 209,000 — were stay-at-home dads last year, taking full-time care of around 392,000 children younger than age 15. These men stayed out of the labor force for at least one year, primarily to allow their wives to work outside the home.
Another 2 million men last year were single fathers in charge of the care for their minor children. About 40 percent of these fathers were divorced, 38 percent were never married, 16 percent were separated and 6 percent were widowed.
Divorced, but still supporting: When divorce happens and kids are involved, among the issues to be settled are (1) who gets primary custody of the children and (2) who mostly pays for their care.
It used to be that men were the main breadwinners and after divorce, they continued contributing a portion — sometimes a substantial amount, according to some of my formerly married father friends — of their income to the care of their kids even when they weren’t the live-in, or custodial, parent.
Nowadays, gender equality has made inroads into all aspects of life, including marital splits. One of every six custodial parents, or 17.5 percent, last year was a father.
And with that shift, more women are now paying child support and alimony.
The Census Bureau’s report Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2013, found that fathers who had custody of their kids during that year received $3.1 billion in child support.
Not getting or paying what’s due: However, these dads didn’t get everything the courts said they should. The Census Bureau study also found that these fathers were due $4.2 billion.
But men still are making the larger share of post-divorce payments for the care of their kids.
When it came to fathers paying child support to the moms who had primary custody of the children, those mothers received $19.4 billion of the $28.7 billion in support that was due.
As for missing some payments, again women and men have attained some more equal, albeit not the best, footing.
The percentage of custodial fathers who received all child support that was due them in 2013 was 40.7 percent. That’s not statistically different from the corresponding percentage of 46.2 percent for custodial mothers.
But since it’s Father’s Day, the $19.4 billion that the data show dads did pay back in 2013 in child support is this Father’s Day week’s By the Numbers figure.
And since this is a tax blog, I must note that unlike alimony, the separate child support payments to the receiving parent who has custody of the kids is not taxable income.
Other types of help: In addition to making cash payments, the parent who doesn’t have custody of the kids also often provide supports in other, noncash ways.
When it came to dads with custody of the children, more than 70 percent of them got some noncash help to cover some of the kids’ needs.
As for dads making the payments, they contributed such noncash child support in almost 50 percent of the divorce situations.
The social, psychological and financial debates continue as to the effects of divorce on children. But one thing that is certain is that when both parents remain at least civil after the separation when it comes to caring for their children, everybody wins.
If you’re spending time today with your dad, regardless of your family situation, give him a hug and be sure to thank him for all he does for you, financial and otherwise.
You also might find these items of interest:
- Tax help for single dads in caring for their kids
- Remembering the good old days of simpler taxes for dad
- A Father’s Day gift for single dads: 5 tax breaks (fun video here!)