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Children thrive when they receive the needed support and love from their parents—regardless of custody status. This includes not only emotional support, but financial support as well. Child support enforcement services are partnerships between Federal, State, local and Tribal entities which aim to provide family-centered services in the location of parents, establishment of paternity, and establishment of support orders and collection of support payments. The Child Support section on the SSRC highlights current research and programs in such key issue areas as arrears, incarceration, multiple partner fertility, non-resident parent involvement, visitation, payment incentives and barriers, and work incentives and barriers.
View recommendations from the SSRC Librarian on Child Support and relevant federal laws and regulations below.
Research on the relationship between child support and pathways to self-sufficiency for low-income individuals and families frequently discusses child support arrears and modification. Click the phrase below to view selected research and resources relevant to child support arrears and modification.
Below are selections from the SSRC Library on child support arrears and modification. Click the titles to learn more about the research and resources.
This study provides a comprehensive review of empirical, peer-reviewed articles from the past 20 years on the direct effects of child support enforcement policies on payments to custodial mothers and the indirect effects of these policies on behaviors such as fertility, sexual activity, welfare utilization, father involvement, and labor participation. The review indicates that child support enforcement has contributed to an increase in child support payments to custodial mothers. Additionally, strong enforcement is associated with low nonmarital fertility, risky sexual behavior, and welfare utilization and high father involvement. Policy implications are discussed. (author abstract)
This study examines how child support arrears affect fathers’ labor force participation. It relies on longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study. Findings from analyses of these data suggest that child support arrears result in declines in average weeks worked in the formal labor market in subsequent time periods. These findings are driven by the behaviors of fathers who had relatively high amounts of arrears and no income in the previous year and are mostly robust to tests for selection into no work or low levels of work by fathers. Findings also suggest that arrears obligations that are low relative to income result in increases in the probability that fathers engage in any formal work. Arrears are not statistically significantly related to informal labor force participation. This study highlights both intended and unintended consequences of the growth in arrears under current child support enforcement policies. (author abstract)
For this report, GAO examined (1) how CSE collections and caseloads have changed in recent years, (2) how states have responded to federal funding changes, and (3) how states have responded to DRA's "family first" policy options. GAO reviewed laws, HHS policy documents, and CSE caseload, collections, and expenditure data and interviewed HHS officials, child support experts, and CSE officials in 10 states selected for variation in program size and geography. GAO is not making recommendations in this report. HHS generally agreed with the findings in this report. (author abstract)
Federal laws and regulations establish a framework which guides the design and administration of child support programs for low-income individuals. Click the first link below to view legislative resources specific to child support programs. Click the second link to browse additional self-sufficiency legislation and policy in the SSRC library.