University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Barriers to Child Support Payment

Nonpayment of child support is a significant problem; national survey data from 2015 show that fewer than half those who were supposed to receive child support received the full payment. In this report, we examine barriers to paying support. We focus on barriers to employment reported by noncustodial fathers who are already behind in their child support payments, and we examine how these barriers are related to subsequent employment and earnings as well as child support payments and compliance. Our findings suggest several policy responses. First, it may be productive for child support programs to work closely with transportation services, since this research shows that transportation difficulties are quite common and are related not only to labor market outcomes but also to later child support outcomes. This research also shows that criminal records are quite common and related to labor market and child support outcomes. There may be advantages for child support agencies to provide fathers with referrals to expungement services, or even co-locating an agency that does expungement within the child support offices. Finally, close relationships with community agencies that provide prisoner reentry services to support employment and the paying of support as soon as is reasonable post-incarceration may be beneficial.


Child Support, Child Support Policy Research, Employment, Employment General, Orders & Payments, WI Administrative Data Core


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