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The Stability of Child Support Orders

This report examines changes in earnings in a cohort of noncustodial fathers, focusing on the extent to which orders and payments change when earnings change. The analysis provides the basis for the companion analysis of the impact of changes in noncustodial fathers’ orders and payments on the stability of custodial mothers’ incomes. The report includes couples who had their first child support order in 2000 and examine patterns over the next 4 years.

Regarding patterns of earnings, the authors find that a substantial proportion of fathers experience large changes in earnings during this five-year period. They also find that relatively few of the cases with large changes in earnings have a large change in their owed amount. Finally, they find that changes in the amount of child support orders are a stronger predictor of changes in payments than are changes in earnings.


Child Support, Child Support Policy Research, Family Income, Orders & Payments, WI Administrative Data Core


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