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Assuring Child Support

Assuring Child Support: An Extension of Social Security

Irwin Garfinkel
Copyright Date: 1992
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Assuring Child Support
    Book Description:

    In the United States, rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbirth are climbing so dramatically that over half of the next generation is likely to spend part of its childhood in single-mother families. As many as half of these families will live in poverty, caused in large measure by the failure of current government regulations to secure adequate child support from absent parents and to assure minimum support when parents cannot provide it.Assuring Child Supportintroduces the Child Support Assurance System, a remedy to this problem that is both feasible and affordable, a practical reform that is within the nation's grasp.

    "An extremely well-written and provocative book." -Eastern Economic Journal

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-238-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Today, about one of five children in the United States is officially defined as poor. And official definitions of poverty are not generous. In 1991, to be classified by the federal government as poor, a family with three persons had to have an annual income below $11,140; a family with four persons, below $13,400. Moreover, the proportion of poor children increased from 15 percent in 1974 to 20 percent in 1989.¹ Poverty among children is on the rise.

    Poverty is but one form of economic insecurity that affects the nation’s youth. A much larger proportion, perhaps up to one-half, of...

  5. 2 The Failure of Child Support in the United States
    (pp. 17-41)

    With the Family Support Act of 1988 the United States took meaningful steps toward changing its child support system, moving toward adoption of the Child Support Assurance System. Although the government has been clearly committed to reforming the child support system since the Child Support Enforcement Amendments of 1975, legislative steps have been small ones, significant in their direction toward a long-term objective but insignificant in substantially changing the existing system. The 1988 act shows a strong commitment to overhauling child support in America.

    This act focuses on two points: reforming the child support system and expanding work programs and...

  6. 3 A New Child Support Assurance System
    (pp. 42-61)

    In 1974, when it became clear that Congress would pass the Child Support Enforcement Amendments, the then Department of Health, Education and Welfare asked the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) at the University of Wisconsin to conduct a study of the nation’s child support system.¹ At the time, I was director designate of the IRP and persuaded Judith Cassetty, a Ph.D. student in social work, to write a dissertation on the topic. As noted in the Preface, her dissertation, completed in 1977 and published the next year as a book,Child Support and Public Policy, was the first piece...

  7. 4 Feasibility of Increasing Child Support Payments
    (pp. 62-84)

    In chapter 3, I showed that, if child support collections increase sufficiently, a Child Support Assurance System that reduces the poverty gap and AFDC recipients by nearly one-fifth could be cost neutral. In this chapter I ask whether such an increase in child support collections is feasible. The answer in brief is yes. But achieving sufficient increases in child support collections to make the CSAS cost neutral will take time and will require further legislation, as well as effective implementation of existing legislation and increased investments in child support enforcement.

    The chapter begins with an explanation of the need to...

  8. 5 Determining A Child Support Standard
    (pp. 85-105)

    There are two major philosophical approaches to determining child support standards: Cost sharing and income sharing.¹ Cost-sharing standards calculate the child support award on the basis of estimates of the cost of raising a child; income-sharing standards calculate awards on the basis of the incomes of the parents. States are now required to have a legislated formula for determining awards, and all of them use some sort of income-sharing standard. The two most common standards are theincome-shares standardand thepercentage-of-income standard. Although both are compatible with the CSAS, I prefer the percentage-of-income standard (even though most states are...

  9. 6 Designing an Assured Benefit
    (pp. 106-128)

    In the United States, as of 1991, only Wisconsin and New York were entitled to receive federal funds to test an assured benefit in a pilot program. In Wisconsin, the pilot program has been held up by political infighting among changing administrations; in New York, a variant of an assured benefit, known as the Child Assistance Program (CAP), has been implemented in a very limited fashion in seven counties.¹

    Several European countries have what they calladvance maintenance benefits, which are equivalent to an assured child support benefit. The Swedish advance maintenance system is one of the oldest and most...

  10. 7 Arguments Against the Child Support Assurance System
    (pp. 129-146)

    One of the criticisms of the CSAS is that legislated standards for child support awards are unfair, that each case should be considered on an individual basis. To these critics, I point out the realizations that led to federal adoption of legislated standards. As noted earlier, the 1980s marked an important institutional shift in American family law from individualized judicial determinations to the use of normative standards. In fact, the most visible example of this change is in the determination of the child support award. Traditionally, this award was set on a case-by-case basis by a judge in a hearing...

  11. 8 Summary and Conclusion
    (pp. 147-154)

    Although the nation is in the process of adopting a child support assurance system, it has not completed the task. Despite the adoption of guidelines, the courts are still heavily involved in determining the child support obligation. Only a few states have implemented universal, routine withholding. All of the states are a long way from universal establishment of paternity. And, perhaps most important, neither the federal government nor any state has adopted an assured child support benefit.

    Such a benefit will simultaneously reduce economic insecurity and welfare dependence. Private child support is irregular. An assured benefit provides a secure base...

  12. Index
    (pp. 155-161)