The Law and Economics of Child Support Payments

The Law and Economics of Child Support Payments

Edited by William S. Comanor

To understand the issues involved, leading lawyers and economists examine various facets of the child support system from a law and economics perspective. They consider the incentives faced by both custodial and non-custodial parents, and search for policy actions that are more incentive-compatible for all participants. The assumptions underlying current child support guidelines are discussed, as are the ways in which child support payments affect family structure, teenage delinquency and income disparities between parents.

Chapter 9: Teenage delinquency: the role of child support payments and father's visitation

Heather Antecol and Kelly Bedard

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy


9. Teenage delinquency: the role of child support payments and father’s visitation Heather Antecol and Kelly Bedard 1. INTRODUCTION Single parenthood, stepfamilies and combined families have become commonplace in the United States. The number of children who spend all or part of their childhood apart from one or more biological parent increased from approximately 12 per cent to 40 per cent between 1960 and 1995 (McLanahan, 1997). Additionally, the fraction of out-of-wedlock births in 1997 was 26, 69 and 41 per cent of fertility among whites, blacks and Hispanics, respectively (Willis, 1999). Furthermore, Bumpass et al. (1995) point out that approximately 40 per cent of women and 30 per cent of all children are likely to spend some time in a stepfamily.1 Societal concerns surrounding this dramatic change in family structure is multifaceted. Firstly, single mothers are much more likely to fall below the poverty line, implying that increasing numbers of children may be exposed to poverty. While the incidence of this type of poverty can be reduced by support payments from the non-custodial parent (usually the father), many divorced fathers fail to volunteer adequate child support payments and/or comply with child support awards mandated by the courts (Weiss and Willis, 1985). The US Bureau of Census estimates that in 1997 6.3 million custodial mothers were due an average child support payment of $4200 but only an average of $2500 was received; in aggregate the difference amounts to a $10.6 billion deficit per year.2 The low level of...

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