Report Icon

Shared Placement in Paternity Cases: An Initial Look

In recent decades, shared placement has become increasingly common following divorce. While the rise in shared placement in divorce cases has been documented, less is known about whether there has been a similar increase in shared placement in paternity cases in recent years. This report builds on prior IRP research and provides an updated look at shared placement in Wisconsin paternity cases, and expands previous analyses to evaluate differences between shared placement and mother sole placement in paternity cases.

Data for this analysis come from the Wisconsin Court Record Data (CRD), which is an administrative data set that includes a random sample of divorce and paternity court cases drawn from 21 counties in Wisconsin. We analyze paternity cases that came to court between July 2000 and December 2013 and . We supplement the court record data with earnings data from the state’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) wage records and from the Client Assistance for Re-employment and Economic Support (CARES) system.

This study finds a notable increase in shared placement arrangements in recent cohorts, although sole mother placement remains the norm for paternity cases in Wisconsin. Consistent with prior work, find that parents who make use of shared placement in paternity cases tend to be slightly more advantaged across a number of measures. On average, shared placement cases have higher child support receipt amounts in the two years following petition resulting in significantly and substantively higher compliance rates. Findings suggest the importance of expanding the relevant shared placement literature and policy discussion to consider paternity cases in addition to divorce cases.


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


, , , ,