Marriage, Parentage and Child Support

22 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2012

See all articles by June Carbone

June Carbone

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law

Naomi Cahn

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: February 3, 2012


While child support calculations have become a matter of routine, the parental determinations, on which they rest, have not. Marriage once served as a system to channel childrearing into two-parent families. Within this system, the marital presumption discouraged efforts to inquire too closely into circumstances that might rebut a husband’s paternity and the stigma against non marital births and divorce eliminated much of the need for such determinations. Today, forty-one percent of American births are non marital and Americans lead the world in family instability. Yet, no comprehensive system has arisen to replace marriage or the marital presumption. This articles reviews the most recent decisions governing parentage, the marital presumption, the use of estoppel to lock in parenthood, liability for child support and the likelihood of continuing disagreement among the states in the allocation of responsibility for children.

Keywords: marriage, parenthood, child support, marital presumption, nonmarital birth, paternity, estoppel

JEL Classification: J11, J12, J13, J16, J18

Suggested Citation

Carbone, June and Cahn, Naomi R., Marriage, Parentage and Child Support (February 3, 2012). Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 2, 2011, Available at SSRN:

June Carbone (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law ( email )

229-19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Naomi R. Cahn

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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