Chapter 1: Child support payments: a review of current policies
* William S. Comanor INTRODUCTION There are two systems of belief regarding child support payments. The ﬁrst system, which dominates academic discussions, considers these payments an important component of social insurance policy. Single-mother headed households represent a large share of all low-income households, and many believe it is the responsibility of the absent fathers to contribute to their support. Indeed, some writers assert that ‘one of the major causes of poverty in single parent families is the inadequate amount of child support’ (Del Boca and Ribero, 1998, p. 471). Even where single-mother households have higher incomes, many believe that support payments are still needed to raise living standards. When the father is absent, income levels are invariably lower since there is now only a single wage earner. Page and Stevens ﬁnd that in the ﬁrst year following divorce, pre-tax family income falls on average by about 42 per cent, and post-tax income by about 32 per cent1 (p. 17). To be sure, the absent father’s consumption spending is also removed from the household budget so these diﬀerences do not necessarily mean lower living standards. Despite that fact, a commonly stated objective is to assure the same household income with one parent as would exist with two. An important dimension of this belief system is that the costs of the children and those of the mother cannot really be distinguished. Incomes refer to the household, and the living standards of a mother and her children are inseparable. As a result, all...
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