Child Support Enforcement and Nonresident Fathers’ Accumulation of Arrears
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
In this study, we explore the associations of 10 state-level child support enforcement policies with the accumulation of arrears among a sample of children with nonresident fathers. We link a unique database (collected by our team) of 10 child support enforcement policies that vary by state and over time (1998-2015) with longitudinal population-based data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), which follows children born in urban areas b/w 1998 and 2000 over 15 years. We estimate the associations of these policies, individually and in various combinations, with the accumulation of arrears among nonresident fathers across all follow-up surveys of the FFCWS, when children are 1, 3, 5, 9, and 15 years old, controlling for relevant individual, family, and state-level characteristics, as well as state and individual fixed effects.
Descriptive results show that noncustodial fathers have on average $2800 in arrears over the period, but this debt accrues from approximately $350 to over $5000 between years 1 and 15. Preliminary analyses suggest that fathers living in states with higher interest rates, automatic application of interest, and retroactive orders have higher arrears; while those living in states allowing self-support reserves and minimum orders have lower arrears. Next steps include combining these policies into relevant indices to understand how these policies interact to impact arrears accumulation and to examine effects for different groups of fathers. The results from these analyses should contribute to our understanding of which policies contribute most to arrears accumulation and the best tools to reduce such accumulation.