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Exploring Reasons for the Decline in Child Support Orders among Paternity Cases

Improving child support enforcement is a key family policy goal because child support is the primary policy tool used to assure private financial support of the children of divorced or never-married parents. However, in recent years, the prevalence of child support orders has declined. Because the trend lines for divorce and nonmarital cases differ, we explore them separately, with divorce cases analyzed in a companion paper (Meyer et al., 2012) .In this paper we  focus on the likelihood of orders among paternity (nonmarital) cases, exploring whether a variety of factors are associated with the trend. We find that changes in placement and the proportions of fathers with low income explain part (but not all) of the decline in orders. After controlling for a variety of characteristics of parents and the legal environment, we still find a lower likelihood of orders in the later period.


Child Support, Child Support Policy Research, Custody & Placement, WI Administrative Data Core


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