During the 1980s, the issue of child support emerged on the national agenda. Federal and state governments in the United States focused on the private obligations of parents to support their children, strengthening existing child support laws and establishing new ones. In this book, Andrea H. Beller and John W. Graham discuss what went right and what went wrong with child support payments during this period, investigating the socioeconomic and legal factors that determined child support awards and receipts, documenting why few gains were made in child support overall during the 1980s, and offering policy recommendations for the future.Analyzing Census Bureau data on child support awards and receipts beginning in 1979, Beller and Graham find that thereweresome minor improvements in the system and that these were due to changes in the legal and social environment surrounding child support. However, say the authors, many problems persist: the real value of child support awards and receipts has declined sharply, and black and never-married mothers, despite making some gains, continue to fare worse in the process than do non-black and previously married mothers. The authors evaluate the effectiveness of new federally mandated child support enforcement techniques and guidelines by focusing on how such laws worked in states that had them prior to the federal mandate. They also look for the first time at the indirect consequences of child support, showing how it affects mothers' decisions about work, welfare, and remarriage and their children's decisions about continuing their education.
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