Using the first five waves of data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), this research examines whether nonresident fathers who owe child support arrears are at risk for the development of depression and alcohol abuse problems. To attenuate a potential omitted variable bias, I controlled for fathers’ previous mental health status by including a lagged dependent variable as a covariate. As a robustness check, I used an instrumental variable approach to correct for endogeneity and measurement error associated with mothers’ report of fathers’ child support arrears.
This article examines the widespread phenomenon of exorbitant child support debt owed by noncustodial fathers in no- and low-income and predominately Black families. Drawing from qualitative data—including a court-based ethnography and in-depth interviews with lawyers, litigants, and judges—this Article explores the inflated and arbitrary nature of the debt, detailing how states utilize family law rules, child support system practices, and court processes to construct burdensome child support arrears that many poor noncustodial fathers will never have the means to pay off.
This report was updated on August 28, 2019. On page vi, the share of child support payments in California that is owed to the government was changed from 70 percent to 40 percent to reflect the most recent data. On page 2, “In San Francisco” was changed to “According to the San Francisco Department of Child Support Services” to clarify the source of the percentage in the first paragraph. (author abstract)
The “Fatherhood: Ongoing Research and Program Evaluation Efforts” brief describes ACF’s ongoing research and evaluation projects related to 1) the Responsible Fatherhood grant program, 2) noncustodial parents, and 3) fathers and fatherhood more broadly. It also describes some of ACF’s past research and evaluation efforts related to fatherhood. (Author introduction)
Nonmarital children account for two fifths of births in the US, and close to two thirds of these children do not live with their fathers by age five. Although nonmarital children primarily live with their mothers, joint legal custody has emerged as an option for their parents. Parents with joint legal custody are expected to make major decisions for their child together, regardless of their prior marital status.
We analyze the role of newly integrated data from the child support and child welfare systems in seeding a major policy change in Wisconsin. Parents are often ordered to pay child support to offset the costs of their children’s stay in foster care. Policy allows for consideration of the “best interests of the child.” Concerns that charging parents could delay or disrupt reunification motivated our analyses of integrated data to identify the impacts of current policy. We summarize the results of the analyses and then focus on the role of administrative data in supporting policy development.
Fathers play an important role in the lives of their children and are an underserved and understudied population. This study explored predictors of father involvement in a sample of low-income fathers enrolled in a responsible fatherhood program in one large county in the northeastern United States. Although many demographic, psychological, and social factors have been found to be associated with father involvement in other research, in our study only living situation, marital status, substance abuse, and self-esteem were significant predictors of involvement.
Developmental research has highlighted the importance of fathers for children’s early academic success, and growing evidence suggests that children living in poverty may benefit the most from positive father involvement. Using a subsample of children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), this study examined direct and mediated pathways from family poverty to children’s preschool achievement.
The child support program promotes parental responsibility, so that children receive support from both parents even when they live in separate households. While this program aims to reduce poverty, the program has financially burdensome consequences for low income, noncustodial parents who have experienced incarceration. Noncustodial parents may accrue arrears when they are unable to work due to incarceration. This study examines the relationship between incarceration and child support arrears among low-income fathers.
Academics have studied married and divorcing couples for many years. It is relatively easy to do so, because marriage and divorce records are, for the most part, public and because many separating married couples consult mental health and legal professionals. Intact or separating unmarried couples, a growing segment of the U.S. (and world) population, have been studied less frequently and systematically. Some good ethnographic work has been done since the turn of the century, and celebrated survey data has added to the knowledge base.