University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Child Support Orders and Payments: Do Lower Orders Result in Higher Payments?

Some observers have asserted that orders that are too high will discourage those who owe child support, and will result in lower payments. In this research, the authors find no evidence for this assertion. For the vast majority of cases in their data, fathers with higher orders make higher payments. This holds even after controlling for income. Orders above 35 percent of income are associated with lower compliance, which makes for a more active (and potentially more expensive) enforcement system, but the average amounts that are paid are higher. These results are generally consistent with a child support system in which most discretion has been taken away from those who owe support.


Child Support, Child Support Policy Research, Complicated Families & Multiple-Partner Fertility, Orders & Payments, WI Administrative Data Core