Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 124–139 | Cite as

The Effect of Joint-Child-Custody Legislation on the Child-Support Receipt of Single Mothers

  • Brandeanna D. Allen
  • John M. Nunley
  • Alan Seals
Original Paper


Due to the preponderance of single mothers on public assistance, delinquent child support has been a contentious political issue in the U.S. We examine whether joint-child-custody reform affects the child-support receipt of single mothers. We use variation in the timing of joint-custody reforms across states to identify the effect of joint custody on the child-support receipt of single mothers. Joint-custody enactment raises the probability of receiving child support for all single mothers by 8%. The effect on all single mothers is driven by the effect on divorced mothers, as separated and never-married mothers are unaffected by joint-custody reform. We conclude joint-custody reform confers the most benefit on divorced mothers and their children, particularly those who do not receive public assistance.


Child custody Child support Divorce Joint custody 



Authors and acknowledgements are listed in alphabetical order. We thank Charles Baum, E. Anthon Eff, Greg Givens, Adam Hogan, Chien-Chung Huang, Travis Minor, Mark Owens, Adam Rennhoff, and Joachim Zietz for their assistance and helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brandeanna D. Allen
    • 1
  • John M. Nunley
    • 2
  • Alan Seals
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Economics and Finance, Jennings A. Jones College of BusinessMiddle Tennessee State UniversityMurfreesboroUSA
  2. 2.Department of Economics, College of Business AdministrationUniversity of Wisconsin—La CrosseLa CrosseUSA
  3. 3.Department of Economics and Finance, Meinders School of BusinessOklahoma City UniversityOklahoma CityUSA

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