“If I Had Money” explores how court-ordered child support can create barriers to building economic security for Black parents, children, and their families—especially when the court-ordered debt is owed to the government. To further investigate the economic security of Black children, teenagers, and their fathers in Mississippi, CFFPP and the Coalition for a Prosperous Mississippi conducted focus groups and listening sessions with Black men, women, and high school students. Several policy recommendations are suggested, all focused on making sure children have the support they need—as well as their parents and families.
State child support enforcement agencies facilitate the legal establishment of paternity for children born outside of marriage, and enforce the payment of child support by noncustodial parents. They are directed to move cash resources from a nonresident parent to the home of his or her child. Ideally, this income transfer provides financial support for children, and security for custodial families. This paper describes how the agency is challenged in the fulfillment of this responsibility by the adversarial nature of its own process, and by the intractable poverty and unemployment (among other barriers to economic security ) of a significant portion of its caseload.
The child support system is complex, can be very confusing and can have dire consequences for families experiencing low incomes and employment instability. Compiled through decades of studying the child support system and processes, this 90-second video offers our Top 10 Points for Noncustodial Parents Dealing with the Child Support System.
The Center for Family Policy and Practice (CFFPP) was founded in 1995 with a focus on family and fatherhood policy. We consider the impact of national and state social welfare and child support policy on low-income parents and their children. After more than 20 years, our work has evolved. Now, our primary goals are (1) to change the dialogue about family economic security to include the perspective of parents who may not live with their children, (2) to attach children’s wellbeing to both their parents’ security and success, and (3) to articulate the need for a family policy that supports racial equity and safety from violence and abuse.
Current federal and state law mandates that custodial parents who apply for cash assistance assign their right to child support payments over to the state. Some of the poorest families do not benefit directly from child support payments because they may not receive the full amount
Family courts have not kept up with changes in the American family. Low-income never-married parents are not getting the support they need for effective co-parenting.
A little more than half of all men not living with children (fathers and non-fathers) are not in the workforce or are unemployed or underemployed.
Revoke the legal requirement that parents reimburse the state or federal government for welfare assistance provided to their children
Fund state-level Families First Commissions to develop plans and processes that ensure broad-based access to services that shape and implement parenting time arrangements and high quality family-dispute resolution services informed by domestic violence and economic security expertise.
Provide guaranteed jobs for all low-income parents—both mothers and fathers, regardless of legal custody status—with the government acting as an employer of last resort.
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