An Examination of the Use and Effectiveness of Child Support Enforcement Tools in Six States

Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica
Aug 30, 2019
Rebekah Selekman and Amy Johnson

Key Findings:

  • Among the study states, there is no clear relationship between how states use enforcement tools and their child support collection rate.
  • States reported that automatic income withholding and tax refund intercepts are the most effective tools for collecting child support. States also value employment services as a way to increase ability to pay, but these services require other sources of funding and are costly to sustain.
  • States reported that the effectiveness of enforcement tools is determined largely by noncustodial parents’ willingness and ability to pay child support.
  • Administrative procedures and automated data systems can improve the efficiency of enforcement practice.

This brief presents findings from an exploratory study on the use and effectiveness of child support enforcement tools. This brief describes the variation in how study states implement enforcement tools (referred to as enforcement practice), examines the extent to which enforcement practice varies systematically across study states, and examines differences in the perceived effectiveness of enforcement tools for different noncustodial parent populations. The exploratory nature of this study points to the importance of additional research utilizing state administrative data to examine the frequency of enforcement tool use, child support collections, payment behavior, and noncustodial parent employment characteristics.

Senior Staff

Amy Johnson
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Rebekah Selekman
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