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Child Support Judgments: Comparing Public Policy to the Public's Policy

41 Pages Posted: 8 May 2014 Last revised: 14 May 2014

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

Stephen McKay

University of Lincoln, UK

Jo Miles

University of Cambridge

Caroline Bryson

Bryson Purdon Social Research

Date Written: May 4, 2014

Abstract

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.

Keywords: child support, child maintenance

Suggested Citation

Ellman, Ira Mark and McKay, Stephen and Miles, Jo and Bryson, Caroline, Child Support Judgments: Comparing Public Policy to the Public's Policy (May 4, 2014). University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 34/2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2433820 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2433820

Ira Mark Ellman (Contact Author)

Arizona State University College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Phoenix, AZ
United States
480-965-2125 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.asu.edu/HomePages/Ellman/

Arizona State University (ASU) - Department of Psychology ( email )

950 S. McAllister Ave
P. O. Box 871104
Tempe, AZ 85287-1104
United States

Center for the Study of Law and Society, Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720-2150
United States

Stephen McKay

University of Lincoln, UK ( email )

Brayford Pool
Lincoln, LN6 7TS
United Kingdom
+44 0 1522-886629 (Phone)

Jo Miles

University of Cambridge ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

Caroline Bryson

Bryson Purdon Social Research ( email )

10 Etherow Street
London, SE22 0JY
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://bpsr.co.uk/

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