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4442.0 - Family Characteristics, Australia, Apr 1997  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/04/1998   
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MEDIA RELEASE

April 22, 1998
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
48/98
One in four children do not live with both natural parents

Nearly one in four Australian children live with only one of their natural parents, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Out of Australia's 4.6 million children aged under eighteen, 1.1 million children live with only one of their natural parents, usually as a result of marriage or relationship breakdown.

However, three quarters (3.4 million) of Australia's children live with both natural parents.

About 18 per cent of all children were in one-parent families and 8 per cent were in step or blended families.

The vast majority of these children were in the sole care of the parent with whom they lived (who looked after them for at least 70 per cent of the time), while 3 per cent of children had parents who shared care more evenly between them. Around 88 per cent of children with a parent living elsewhere lived with their mother.

Younger children were likely to visit the parent they did not live with more frequently than older children. Of children in sole care, 60 per cent of those aged 0-2 visited their other natural parent at least once per fortnight, compared with 31 per cent of those aged 15-17. Around one-quarter of children aged 2 and over had no contact with their other natural parent, either by visits, telephone or letter.

Other details about families where children didn't live with both natural parents include:
  • 42 per cent of families (199,200 one-parent families and 53,700 step and blended families) received cash child support from the other parent ;
  • a further 16 per cent of families received support such as clothing, pocket money and assistance with school fees;
  • 41 per cent of families received no child support from the other parent;
  • around one-third of all families receiving cash child support received, on average, $100 or less per month per child;
  • for one-parent families, the median income for families receiving child support was $18,200, while for those not receiving child support it was $16,900; and
  • for step and blended couple families, the median income for families receiving child support was $45,140, while for those not receiving child support it was $37,440.


Details are in Family Characteristics, Australia (cat. no. 4442.0) available from ABS bookshops.

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