Child Support Judgments: Comparing Public Policy to the Public's Policy
Ira Mark Ellman
Arizona State University College of Law; Arizona State University (ASU) - Department of Psychology; Center for the Study of Law and Society, Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley
University of Lincoln, UK
University of Cambridge
Bryson Purdon Social Research
May 4, 2014
University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 34/2014
Any child support regime necessarily makes policy choices about how parental income should be shared between the two parental households. Those choices involve balancing the claims of the child, the claims of the custodial parent for help with the expenses of providing for the child, and the claims of the support obligor for autonomy in deciding how to spend his own earnings. That balancing task is complicated by the fact that the child and the custodial parent necessarily share a living standard, so that any child support transfer, large or small, will unavoidably benefit the custodial parent as well as the child. This article reports the findings of an empirical study designed to reveal the policies favoured by the British public on these questions. It then compares the public's preferred policies to the policy choices implicit in the current UK child support schedule. It concludes that there are important gaps between the two, and recommends that consideration be given to amending the current UK law to better align it with the public's values on these matters. This paper, aimed at an academic audience, is a more comprehensive and technically complete presentation of an earlier paper, "Child Maintenance: How Much Should the State Require Fathers to Pay When Families Separate?", which was aimed at a general audience and published online as part of British Social Attitudes 2013.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: child support, child maintenance
Date posted: May 8, 2014 ; Last revised: May 14, 2014
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