DETERMINANTS OF CHILD SUPPORT: A PILOT SURVEY OF ABSENT PARENTS
FREYA L. SONENSTEIN
CHARLES A. CALHOUN
The proportion of children living in single-parent households has risen dramatically during the past two decades. Approximately half of these children live in poverty. A major factor in this impoverishment is non-custodial parents'failure to provide child support. Much is known about child support behavior from the custodial parent's perspective, but little research has focused on the noncustodial parent's perspective. The Survey of Absent Parents (SOAP) was initiated to remedy this gap. This paper describes the results of the SOAP pilot survey of linked custodial and non-custodial parents in three counties in Florida and three counties in Ohio. It reports the results of multivariate analyses of the predictors of (i) child support award levels, (ii) child support payments as reported by custodial and non-custodial parents, and (Hi) compliance with child support awards as reported by custodial and non-custodial parents. The results indicate that custodial and non-custodial parents have very different perspectives on how much child support is paid. The main factors predicting payments across these two populations are (i) the non-custodial parent's situation measured by his current income and marital status, (ii) the custodial parent's situation measured by her current income-excluding child support payments-and marital status, (Hi) program interventions such as formulas used to set award levels, payment through the court, and wage withholding, and (iv) the warmth of the relationships between the former partners and between the father and the child. Copyright 1990 Western Economic Association International.
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