Child support enforcement and fathers' contributions to their nonmarital children

Soc Serv Rev. 2010;84(3):341-80. doi: 10.1086/655392.


This study examines the total package of child support that mothers receive from the nonresident fathers of their children, by focusing on three components of total support: formal cash, informal cash, and in-kind support. Using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this article considers how contributions change over time and the effects of child support enforcement on these contributions. Findings suggest that total cash support received drops precipitously over the first 15 months of living apart (as informal support drops off) and then increases slightly after 45 months (as the increase in formal support overtakes the decrease in informal support). While the study finds no effect of enforcement on total support received in the first 5 years after a nonmarital birth, the substantial differences in total cash support received by the length of time that parents have not been cohabiting suggest that strong enforcement may be efficacious over time.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Care* / economics
  • Child Care* / history
  • Child Care* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Child Care* / psychology
  • Child Welfare / economics
  • Child Welfare / ethnology
  • Child Welfare / history
  • Child Welfare / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Child Welfare / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Divorce* / economics
  • Divorce* / ethnology
  • Divorce* / history
  • Divorce* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Divorce* / psychology
  • Family Relations* / ethnology
  • Family Relations* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Father-Child Relations / ethnology
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Judicial Role / history
  • Law Enforcement* / history
  • Socioeconomic Factors*