Cover image for Fathers under fire : the revolution in child support enforcement
Fathers under fire : the revolution in child support enforcement
Garfinkel, Irwin.
Publication Information:
New York : Russell Sage Foundation, 1998.
Physical Description:
xii, 351 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
pt. I. What are the policies and who are the fathers? A brief history of child support policies in the United States / Irwin Garfinkel, Daniel R. Meyer, Sara S. McLanahan ; A patchwork portrait of nonresident fathers / Irwin Garfinkel, Daniel R. Meyer, Thomas L. Hanson -- pt. II. How does child support enforcement affect fathers? The effect of child support on the economic status of nonresident fathers / Daniel R. Meyer ; Does child support enforcement policy affect male labor supply? / Richard B. Freeman and Jane Waldfogel ; Child support and fathers' remarriage and fertility / David E. Bloom, Cecilia Conrad and Cynthia Miller ; Will child support enforcement increase father-child contact and parental conflict after separation? / Judith A. Seltzer, Sara S. McLanahan and Thomas L. Hanson ; The effects of stronger child support enforcement on nonmarital fertility / Anne Case -- pt. III. Should we do more to help fathers? Programs to increase fathers' access to their children / Jessica Pearson and Nancy Thoenes ; Low-income parents and the parents' fair share program : an early qualitative look at improving the ability and desire of low-income noncustodial parents to pay child support / Earl S. Johnson and Fred Doolittle ; How should we think about child support obligations? / Martha Minow ; Conclusions / Irwin Garfinkel, Sara S. McLanahan, Daniel R. Meyer and Judith A. Seltzer.
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"This important and highly informative collection of studies on nonresidentfathers and child support should be of great value to scholars and policymakers alike." -- American Journal of Sociology

Over half of America's children will live apart from their fathers at some point as they grow up, many in the single-mother households that increasingly make up the nation's poor. Federal efforts to improve the collection of child support from fathers appear to have little effect on payments, and many critics have argued that forcing fathers to pay does more harm than good. Much of the uncertainty surrounding child support policies has stemmed from a lack of hard data on nonresident fathers. Fathers Under Fire presents the best available information on the financial and social circumstances of the men who are at the center of the debate. In this volume, social scientists and legal scholars explore the issues underlying the child support debate, chief among them on the potential repercussions of stronger enforcement.

Who are nonresident fathers? This volume calls upon both empirical and theoretical data to describe them across a broad economic and social spectrum. Absentee fathers who do not pay child support are much more likely to be school dropouts and low earners than fathers who pay, and nonresident fathers altogether earn less than resident fathers. Fathers who start new families are not significantly less likely to support previous children. But can we predict what would happen if the government were to impose more rigorous child support laws? The data in this volume offer a clearer understanding of the potential benefits and risks of such policies. In contrast to some fears, stronger enforcement is unlikely to push fathers toward. But it does seem to have more of an effect on whether some fathers remarry and become responsible for new families. In these cases, how are subsequent children affected by a father's pre-existing obligations? Should such fathers be allowed to reduce their child support orders in order to provide for their current families? Should child support guidelines permit modifications in the event of a father's changed financial circumstances? Should government enforce a father's right to see his children as well as his obligation to pay support? What can be done to help under- or unemployed fathers meet their payments? This volume provides the information and insight to answer these questions.

The need to help children and reduce the public costs of welfare programs is clear, but the process of achieving these goals is more complex. Fathers Under Fire offers an indispensable resource to those searching for effective and equitable solutions to the problems of child support.

Author Notes

Irwin Garfinkel is M. I. Ginsberg Professor of Continuing Urban Problems in the School of Social Work at Columbia University
Sara S. McLanahan is professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University
Daniel R. Meyer is associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty
Judith A. Seltzer is professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles
David E. Bloom is professor of population and health economics at Harvard University's School of Public Health and deputy director of the Harvard Institute for International Development
Anne Case is professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University
Cecilia Conrad is associate professor of economics at Pomona College and senior research associate with the Joint Center for Political Economic Studies in Washington, D.C.
Fred Doolittle is deputy director of research at Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, New York and San Francisco
Richard B. Freeman is Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University. He is also director of the Labor Studies Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research and executive director of the Program in Discontinuous Economics at the London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance
Thomas L. Hanson is assistant research psychologist in the Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside
Earl S. Johnson is research associate at Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, New York and San Francisco
Cynthia Miller is research associate at Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation
Martha Minow is professor of law at Harvard University
Jessica Pearson is director of the Center for Policy Research in Denver, Colorado
Nancy Thoennes is associate director of the Center for Policy Research in Denver, Colorado
Jane Waldfogel is assistant professor of social work and public affairs at the Columbia University School of Social Work

Table of Contents

Irwin Garfinkel and Sara S. McLanahan and Daniel R. Meyer and Judith A. SeltzerIrwin Garfinkel and Daniel R. Meyer and Sara S. McLanahanIrwin Garfinkel and Sara S. McLanahan and Thomas L. HansonDaniel R. MeyerRichard B. Freeman and Jane WaldfogelDavid E. Bloom and Cecilia Conrad and Cynthia MillerJudith A. Seltzer and Sara S. McLanahan and Thomas L. HansonAnne CaseJessica Pearson and Nancy ThoennesEarl S. Johnson and Fred DoolittleMartha MinowIrwin Garfinkel and Sara S. McLanahan and Daniel R. Meyer and Judith A. Seltzer
Contributorsp. ix
Conference Participantsp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
Part I What Are the Policies and Who Are the Fathers?p. 11
Chapter 1 A Brief History of Child Support Policies in the United Statesp. 14
Chapter 2 A Patchwork Portrait of Nonresident Fathersp. 31
Part II How Does Child Support Enforcement Affect Fathers?p. 61
Chapter 3 The Effect of Child Support on the Economic Status of Nonresident Fathersp. 67
Chapter 4 Does Child Support Enforcement Policy Affect Male Labor Supply?p. 94
Chapter 5 Child Support and Fathers' Remarriage and Fertilityp. 128
Chapter 6 Will Child Support Enforcement Increase Father-Child Contact and Parental Conflict After Separation?p. 157
Chapter 7 The Effects of Stronger Child Support Enforcement on Nonmarital Fertilityp. 191
Part III Should We Do More to Help Fathers?p. 216
Chapter 8 Programs to Increase Fathers' Access to Their Childrenp. 220
Chapter 9 Low-Income Parents and the Parents' Fair Share Program: An Early Qualitative Look at Improving the Ability and Desire of Low-Income Noncustodial Parents to Pay Child Supportp. 253
Chapter 10 How Should We Think About Child Support Obligations?p. 302
Conclusionp. 331
Indexp. 345