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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Child custody Child support Divorce Joint custody 

References

  1. Angrist, J. D., & Pischke, J. (2009). Mostly harmless econometrics: An empiricist’s companion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Arditti, J. A., & Keith, T. Z. (1993). Visitation frequency, child-support payment, and the father-child relationship postdivorce. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55, 699–712.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Argys, L. M., & Peters, H. E. (2001). Interactions between unmarried fathers and their children: The role of paternity establishment and child-support policies. American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, 91, 125–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Argys, L. M., Peters, H. E., & Waldman, D. M. (2001). Can the Family Support Act put some life back into deadbeat dads? An analysis of child-support guidelines, award rates, and levels. Journal of Human Resources, 36, 226–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beller, A. H., & Graham, J. W. (1993). Small change: The economics of child support. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bertrand, M., Duflo, E., & Mullainathan, S. (2004). How much should we trust differences-in-differences estimates? Quarterly Journal of Economics, 119, 249–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bok, M., & Simmons, L. (2002). Post-welfare reform, low-income families and the dissolution of the safety net. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 23, 217–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bound, J., Baker, D. A., & Baker, R. M. (1995). Problems with instrumental variables estimation when the correlation between the instruments and the endogenous explanatory variable is weak. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 90, 433–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brinig, M., & Buckley, F. (1998). Joint custody: Bonding and monitoring theories. Indiana Law Journal, 73, 1–31.Google Scholar
  10. Buehler, C., & Gerard, J. M. (1995). Divorce law in the United States: A focus on child custody. Family Relations, 44, 439–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cancian, M., & Meyer, D. (1998). Who gets custody? Demography, 35, 147–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Del Boca, D., & Ribero, R. (1998). Transfers in non-intact households. Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, 9, 469–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eldar-Avidan, D., Haj-Yahia, M. M., & Greenbaum, C. W. (2008). Money matters: Young adults’ perception of the economic consequences of their parents’ divorce. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 29, 74–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Forry, N. D. (2009). The impact of child care subsidies on low-income single parents: An examination of child care expenditures and family finances. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 30, 43–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Freeman, R. B., & Waldfogel, J. (2001). Dunning deliquent dads: The effects of child support enforcement policy on child support receipt by never married mothers. Journal of Human Resources, 36, 207–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Garasky, S., & Stewart, S. D. (2007). Evidence of the effectiveness of child support and visitation: Examining food insecurity among children with nonresident fathers. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28, 105–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gunnoe, M. L., & Braver, S. L. (2001). The effects of joint legal custody on mothers, fathers, and children controlling for factors that predispose a sole maternal versus joint legal award. Law and Human Behavior, 25, 25–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hofferth, S. L., Forry, N. D., & Peters, H. E. (2010). Child support, father-child contact, and preteens’ involvement with nonresidential fathers: Racial/ethnic differences. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 31, 14–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huang, C. (2002). The impact of child support enforcement on nonmarital and marital births: Does it differ by racial and age groups? Social Service Review, 76, 275–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Huang, C., Han, W., & Garfinkel, I. (2003). Child support enforcement, joint legal custody, and parental involvement. Social Service Review, 77, 255–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jacob, H. (1988). Silent revolution: The transformation of divorce law in the United States. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kelly, J. B. (1994). The determination of child custody. Future of Children, 4, 121–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lerman, R. I. (1993). Policy watch: Child support policies. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 7, 171–182.Google Scholar
  24. Mammen, S., Lass, D., & Seiling, S. B. (2009). Labor force supply decisions of rural low-income mothers. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 30, 67–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mimura, Y. (2008). Housing cost burden, poverty status, and economic hardship among low-income families. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 29, 152–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Monna, B., & Gauthier, A. (2008). A review of the literature on the social and economic determinants of parental time. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 29, 634–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Neelakantan, U. (2009). The impact of changes in child support policy. Journal of Population Economics, 22, 641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nelson, C. R., & Startz, R. (1990a). Some further results on the exact small sample properties of the instrumental variables estimator. Econometrica, 58, 967–976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nelson, C. R., & Startz, R. (1990b). The distribution of the instrumental variables estimator and its t-ratio when the instrument is a poor one. Journal of Business, 63, 125–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pearson, J., & Thoennes, N. (1988). Supporting children after divorce: The influence of custody on support levels and payment. Family Law Quarterly, 22, 319–339.Google Scholar
  31. Roff, J. (2008). A Stackelberg model of child support and welfare. International Economic Review, 49, 515–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rowe, B. R. (1989). Child support guidelines: Economic theory and policy considerations. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 10, 345–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sanders, C. K., & Porterfield, S. L. (2010). The ownership society and women: exploring female householders’ ability to accumulate assets. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 31, 90–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Seltzer, J. A. (1991). Legal custody arrangements and children’s economic welfare. American Journal of Sociology, 96, 895–929.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Seltzer, J. A. (1998). Father by law: Effects of joint legal custody on nonresident rathers’ involvement with children. Demography, 35, 135–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Seltzer, J., & Maralani, V. (2001). Joint legal custody and child support payments: Are there lasting custody effects. California Center for Population Research On-Line Working Paper Series, 1–38.Google Scholar
  37. Son, S., & Bauer, J. W. (2010). Employed rural, low-income, single mothers’ family and work over time. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 31, 107–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sorensen, E., & Hill, A. (2004). Single mothers and their child-support receipt: How well is child-support enforcement doing? Journal of Human Resources, 39, 135–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Staiger, D., & Stock, J. H. (1997). Instrumental variables regression with weak instruments. Econometrica, 65, 557–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wolfers, J. (2006). Did unilateral divorce rates raise divorce rates? A reconciliation and new results. American Economic Review, 96, 1802–1820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations