An Evidence-Based Approach to Child Support

Posted by Aspen Institute on September 8, 2020

Record levels of job loss, economic instability, and family isolation during the pandemic have raised the child support policy stakes for fathers, families, and communities. Through careful and rigorous research, we know that there is a better way to approach child support policy to build strong families and communities.

Across the country – states, counties, and tribes have embraced the research and are modernizing their child support programs through holistic, family-centered policies and practices that build partnerships with parents instead of adversarial relationships. They go beyond collecting money to address underlying reasons for nonpayment, ensure that children benefit from payments, and facilitate effective co-parenting. Family-centered child support policies put children where they belong: at the center of child support policymaking.

The Centering Child Well-Being in Child Support Policy toolkit, developed in partnership with Good+ Foundation, features new analysis of state child support director survey data. We found that many states are moving to adopt more pragmatic and family-centered child support policies, including the following innovations:

  • Ensure Families Receive All Child Support Payments
  • Implement Sensible Debt Reduction Strategies
  • Set Realistic and Accurate Child Support Orders
  • Provide Employment and Income Supports When Noncustodial Parents Have Barriers to Payment
  • Provide Family Stabilization Services
  • Improve Equal Access to Justice for All Parents

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