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Congressional Testimony of
Ronald K. Henry, Esq.
LET PARENTS BE PARENTS:
CHILD SUPPORT AS IT OUGHT TO BE
As we move into a new round of child support enforcement reform, social science researchers continue to confirm what societal tradition and intuition have told us all along; children need the active physical and emotional involvement of two parents, a father and a mother. For every social problem that we experience -- teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, poor school performance, low self-esteem, depression, suicide, or any other item on our list of social ills -- research confirms that family breakdown and, particularly, father loss are primary causal factors. As acknowledged by groups of all political persuasions, from the conservative American Legislative Exchange Counsel to the liberal Progressive Policy Institute to the National Commission on Children, a political consensus has emerged to acknowledge the reality that public policy must begin to focus upon issues of family formation, family preservation, and demilitarization of the divorce process where parental separation cannot be avoided.
Unfortunately for children, public policy initiatives too often consist of band-aids and tonics designed to cover or suppress individual symptoms while failing to diagnose or cure the underlying disease. Too often, the tonics have some unintended consequences and side effects which exacerbate the original disease or stimulate new ones.
The nation has spent thirty years treating the symptoms of family breakdown in ways that many believe have unintentionally advanced the dismal trend. We know that marriage is the best path to avoid or escape poverty, yet we punish family formation through our social service programs and tax laws. We know that the three best predictors of child support compliance are (1) the fairness of the original order, (2) the obligor's access to the child, and (3) the obligor's work stability, yet we have proceeded on a simplistic idealogy of "more is better" in all matters of support amount and punitive enforcement. We know that entrenched special-interest groups have a vested interest in magnifying their own self-importance through repeated claims that child support is paid only 50% in full and 25% in part, but we have failed to challenge the accuracy of the claims and have failed to challenge the special-interest groups' strange silence about the fact that the same database also reveals the following:
Child support compliance was 90.2% in cases of joint custody;
Child support compliance was 79.1% where access to the child was protected by a visitation order;
Child support compliance was only 44.5% where neither joint custody nor access were protected by an order;
In 66% of the non-compliance cases, the mothers themselves reported that the reason was "father unable to pay."1
The issues at stake for American families are too important to allow policy to be based upon stereotyping, anecdotes, and special-interest group "spin control". The country needs thoughtful, dispassionate analysis of the role of Federal policy in family breakdown and parent absence. Before we consider more mechanisms for federal enforcement of state domestic relations orders, we need to better understand those orders and the people against whom enforcement is sought. Is noncompliance simply bad behavior or are we making unfair demands? There is good reason to believe that there are far more "thrown-away parents" who are victims of policies that discourage their involvement except as anonymous cash donors than there are "runaway parents." This is not the time for more band-aids and tonics. It is a time to take to heart the physician's creed to "do no harm."
II. The Pendulum Of Public Prejudice
Throughout most of our nation's history and in much of the world today, the law contained a strong or conclusive presumption that sole custody would be awarded to the father in the event of family dissolution. The early feminist meeting in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, for example, included the fact that fathers automatically received custody as a principal complaint in its Declaration of Sentiments.
Prior to the industrial revolution, most parents worked side-by-side with the children on the family farm or in the family trade. Children were nurtured and educated through almost continuous contact with both parents and child-rearing books through the 18th and mid-19th century emphasized the father's centrality in raising the children and preparing them for the adult world. As the industrial revolution accelerated through the 19th century by pushing more fathers out of the family enterprise and into the factories, social theorists began to exalt rigid sex role separations with father as external wage earner and mother as home-bound nurturer. Still, the pendulum swung slowly and the pro-feminist philosopher John Stewart Mill observed that, while the idea was interesting, the public was insufficiently prepared to discuss mother custody.
Continued industrialization, coupled with the then perceived virtue of getting women out of the paid work force in order to create jobs for returning servicemen at the end of World War I, culminated in a full-blown "cult of motherhood" and the establishment of the "tender years doctrine" in most states. The pendulum of public prejudice, having swung from one extreme to the other, then enforced automatic mother custody with the same rigidity as the earlier enforcement of automatic father custody.
In approximately the last 20 years, the pendulum has begun swinging toward a more centered position2 and most states have abrogated the tender years doctrine through statute or court decision as a violation of equal protection. Virtually all states now give at least lip service to the principle that custody decisions should be made in accordance with the "best interests" of the children rather than by reference to the parents' gender. Although the legal regimes vary, it is now recognized in all states that either the mother or the father can "win" the battle for custody of the child.
III. What We Know About Children's Needs
While the law was advancing to the point of recognizing that either mother or father could be the better parent, social science research confirmed that the best parent is both parents. Ten years ago, it was considered impolite to suggest that two-parent families were functionally superior to single-parent families. Today, the notions that two-parent families are unimportant and that government can provide an effective substitute have been repudiated. In their place is a broad political and scientific consensus that children need two parents.
In 1965, Patrick Moynihan was condemned for his observation of the consequences of family breakdown:
From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future -- that community asks for and gets chaos.
Today, Moynihan's heresy reflects the consensus. The view from the left by groups like the Progressive Policy Institute3 is that:
Traditional liberals' unwillingness to acknowledge that two-parents families are the most effective units for raising children has led them into a series of policy cul-de-sacs . . . . Our point is that at the level of statistical aggregates and society-wide phenomena, significant differences do emerge between one-parent and two-parent families, differences that can and should shape our understanding of social policy.
The view from the right by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council4 is that:
With a unanimity of view that is virtually unparalleled, social science researchers have documented the fact that children of divorce or unwed birth fair poorly in comparison to children from intact families. Regardless of the social problem which is under consideration, whether it be drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancy, low self-esteem, poor academic achievement, or even suicide, research points to family breakdown as a primary cause.
In accordance with the resurrected understanding that two-parent families are important for children, liberals and conservatives have reached common ground on the importance of encouraging family formation and family preservation. But what about children of divorce?
IV. How to Encourage The Two-Parent Family, Especially After
Courts are most accustomed to adversarial presentations that are resolved by the selection of a winner and a loser. The system works well in commercial disputes. The court picks a winner and a loser, the loser is ordered to pay the winner, then we move on to the next case. The difference in domestic relations cases is that it is immoral and destructive to treat children as prizes to be awarded to a winner and denied to a loser.
Children are born with two parents. Children want, love, and need two parents. The fact that mother and father no longer live under the same roof does nothing to diminish the child's need for both parents. The only thing that is assured by a winner-take-all domestic relations system is that the child will necessarily lose because the child walked into court with two parents and walks out with only one.
In most marriages, both spouses are good parents who love and wish to be an active part of their children's lives. Policies should be based upon the norm of human response rather than upon the pathological extremes. The winner-take-all approach to custody encourages a bifurcation into good parent and bad parent categories. The bad parent is then more easily relegated to a marginal role in the child's life. All losers, all bad parents, are then more easily painted with the same brush of a "standard visitation schedule" encompassing alternate weekends and scattered holidays. All losers, ranging from those who were almost winners to those who barely avoided termination of parental rights, are thus lumped together by the presumption of pathology. Abolition of the presumption of pathology is the first step towards protection of the child's best interests.
Disneyland Daddies, Marginal Mommies, and their non-custodial children have a common complaint; "visitation" just doesn't feel like a real parent-child relationship. Parent to child teaching occurs in the quiet moments, the shared tasks, the talks at the end of the day. School-night sleepovers are every bit as important as Saturday extravaganzas, especially for older children who see weekends as a time of conflict between the attractions of parents and peers.
V. Stereotypes Damage Children
Stereotypes about fathers seeking custody to avoid child support and mothers grasping children as meal tickets do not help to resolve custody disputes. Both stereotypes ignore the simple human fact that parents love their children and want to be with them. Stereotypes have become so ingrained that the United States Department of Health and Human Services was actually surprised to learn that young fathers care about their children.5 Maintaining the stereotype that fathers do not care about their children also requires a very special compartmentalization of the mind. Fathers' devotion to and sacrifice on behalf of their children is so naturally expected that it is hardly noticed. The coal miner who continues to work while dying of black lung disease may look like "The Patriarchy" to some but would describe himself simply as a father if we ever thought to ask. In the popular movie, "The Little Mermaid," no one is surprised that King Triton sacrifices everything to save his daughter yet, upon divorce, we would expect him to quietly walk away.
Stereotypes about men create the Catch-22 that fathers don't care enough to seek custody and, if they really cared, they would not put the children through the trauma of a court battle. Stereotypes about women and perceptions of gender bias favoring mother custody in the courts create pressure for mothers to seek sole custody even when they recognize that it is not in the child's best interests. Organizations like Mothers Without Custody report that one of the greatest problems encountered by the more than one million non-custodial mothers in the United States is the ostracism they suffer after being pressed to explain why they do not have sole custody. Stereotypes of men and women damage children by indiscriminately ascribing fixed characteristics to large groups of individual human beings. Surely there are some fathers who are uncaring deadbeats and some mothers who are uncaring gold diggers.6 Each child, however, has one specific father and one specific mother, not a caricature from a class.
VI. No Substitutes, Please
Since we know that children of divorce fare poorly in comparison to children from intact marriages, the defenders of the winner-take-all system have developed something of a cottage industry in seeking out factors other than parent loss to explain the deficit. The most commonly asserted rationale is poverty. Single-parent custody would be just fine, we are told, if only we would increase the government subsidies and the income transfers from non-custodians. If increased income is the salvation, we should expect children in step-families to be doing quite nicely since such families have two adults plus an income transfer from the non-custodian, resulting in an economic level at or above that of intact two-parent families. Instead, children in step-families show every bit as many problems as children in single-parent homes. See National Commission on Children, "Speaking of Kids: A National Survey," 1991; Zill, Child Trends.
Many children have grown up economically impoverished and thrived as adults. The emotional and psychological impoverishment that comes from parent loss is far harder to overcome. As stated by Professor Lawrence Meade of New York University:
The inequalities that stem from the work place are now trivial in comparison to those stemming from family structure. What matters for success is not whether your father was rich or poor but whether you had a father at all.
Parent loss through family breakup is a disaster for children. The legal system through which divorcing families must travel can be structured to have positive or negative effects on parent-child bonds. The task is to identify and encourage structures which preserve and enhance the child's bond with both parents.
VII. The Origin of Child Support Policy
Public involvement in child support has grown to such a large scale that it is sometimes forgotten that the entire concept of child support transfer payments is a recent invention. Historically, a parent's duty was to support the child in the parent's own home and to keep the door open for the child to enter. Transfer payments arose only in the highly uncommon situation of a parent who had rejected his or her own child and thereby created a burden for the state or third parties. Child support transfer payments were thus rare during the era of father custody and remained rare during the early years of the mother custody era. As the pendulum of prejudice shifted to sole mother custody during a time in which women generally did not work outside the home, the courts began to recognize the consequences of placing children in the least economically viable fragment of the former family. The 1920's then saw a large scale transformation in the fundamental structure of child support.
Under the new formulation, the parent who "lost" custody was both deprived of the companionship of the child and ordered to pay the other parent for services that the "loser" had historically provided with love and without charge in his own home. This unique separation of the rights of custody and the duties of support became a consequence of the "tender years" doctrine that is matched nowhere else in a legal system that has prided itself upon its attention to the principle that the possessor of rights should also bear the burdens and responsibilities associated with those rights. It is this bifurcation of rights and responsibilities that is at the root of the problem of civil disobedience in child support enforcement. Current policy makes the simplistic assumption that all non-custodians are "runaway parents" when, in fact, many non-custodians are "thrown away parents" who are victims of a court order that assumed children needed only "a custodian and a check".
What has been left out of the equation is our understanding of human nature and, particularly, our understanding that parents support children because of their relationships with those children. We do not have a problem with large numbers of parents who refuse to provide for their children during an intact marriage yet those same responsible parents become "deadbeats" upon divorce. It is time to examine the role of Government policy in the post-divorce behavior of the non-custodial parents. When we say to non-custodial parents that we care nothing about their relationships with their children, that we will offer no protection against the custodial parent's interference with that relationship, and that we will devote Government resources only to extracting financial payments from them, we should not be surprised by the result. Parents support children when they are permitted to be parents; slaves run away.
VIII. False Images And the Formulation Of Public Policy
The most widely cited statistics on child support compliance are those compiled by the United States Bureau of the Census. These figures purport to show that approximately 50% of child support orders are paid in full, approximately 25% are paid in part, and approximately 25% are unpaid. These figures are given as the principal justification for the punitive child support measures undertaken by the federal and state governments during the last decade. The problem is that the cited figures do not accurately reflect the reality of child support compliance and, as noted by Professor Sanford Braver, 7 the methodology adopted by the Census Bureau was completely unreliable. The Census Bureau asked only the custodial mothers whether payment had been received. It did not compare those responses with non-custodial reports of how much was paid or court records of how much was owed. Another flaw was the failure to quantify or correct the under-reporting of the amount of child support actually received by surveyed welfare recipients who feared a risk of benefit reduction or termination if they disclosed the receipt of more than $50 in child support. In other contexts, the Department of Health and Human Services has admitted that welfare recipients typically understate their income in Federal surveys. 8 Finally, the survey lumped together as "partial compliance" all situations where the delinquency was as little as the late payment of a single installment and counted as "non-compliance" even those cases where the obligor was unemployed, disabled, imprisoned or dead!
Whenever the exaggerations of the child support lobby are exposed, the ready response is that critics must surely admit that at least some child support is not paid. True enough, but this response invariably begs the question of why some child support payments are not paid. Senior officials of the Office of Child Support Enforcement of the United States Department of Health and Human Services adknowledge that very little data exists on why child support payments are not made and that none of it is publicized. The United States spends well over $1 billion annually on child support enforcement yet the Government has no meaningful understanding of how many non-paying obligors are unemployed, disabled, supporting second families, or engaged in civil disobedience because they have been unable to see their children.
The enforcement of child support is already the most onerous form of debt collection practiced in the United States. Tax returns are intercepted, credit reporting services are notified, billion dollar bureaucracies are fed, and obligors are even jailed. If compliance is still inadequate despite the efforts of this massive enforcement apparatus, society must begin looking at the question of "why?".
At one point, the Federal Government did begin a survey to learn more about the obligors. Called "the Survey of Absent Parents" (SOAP), the survey was conducted on a pilot basis in two states. The results from that pilot survey undercut the stereotypes and the institutional desires of the Office of Child Support Enforcement. Wayne Stanton, who was then the Administrator of the Family Support Administration and head of the child support enforcement effort, killed the study and refused even to publish the pilot results. Only through the Freedom of Information Act has it been possible to obtain a copy of the pilot study and the internal agency paper trail documenting the termination of this important research effort. As stated by Robert B. Helms, then Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, in a memorandum to Mr. Stanton dated October 1, 1986:
In response to your disappointing memorandum of August 22nd, I have requested my staff to notify the National Opinion Research Center and the Urban Institute that funding for the Survey Of Absent Parents will terminate December 31, 1986, the end of the contract period for the pilot study. While I disagree with your decision, the study cannot be continued without financial support from the program offices which would benefit most from the new information generated by the study.
I would like to point out, however, that as our staffs have discussed new AFDC and child support initiatives that the administration might undertake, all were in agreement that much of the information necessary to develop the necessary impact estimates is currently nowhere available. . . .
I remain concerned that the commitment to fund the national survey was not undertaken in good faith by the Office of Child Support Enforcement when the memorandum of understanding was signed. . . . Obviously the survey has direct and immediate policy relevance, not only for the types of information needs cited above, but also because the survey collects new information about one of the major concerns the Congress was unable to address to the 1984 Child Support Amendments - the "intricately intertwined" issues of custody, visitation rights and child support. [Emphasis added.]
Since the assassination of the Survey of Absent Parents, no serious effort has been undertaken to test the stereotypes, prejudices, and anecdotes that have driven child support policy in the past decade. Only a few tantalizing glimpses of the truth have emerged. For example, in January, 1992, the General Accounting Office issued a report on interstate child support at the request of Senator Bill Bradley and Representative Marge Roukema and Representative Barbara Kennelly. In part because of the termination of the Survey of Absent Parents, the General Accounting Office reported that the only available database was the survey of custodial mothers undertaken by the Bureau of the Census. The methodological deficiencies of the Census Bureau data have been discussed above, but one finding of the GAO study truly stands out. In both intrastate cases and interstate cases, 66% of the custodial mothers with child support orders themselves reported that the reason for not receiving payment was "father unable to pay." 9
Even without hearing the obligor's side of the story, then, we have reason to suspect that at least two-thirds of the problem of child support non-compliance is the result of court orders that fail to reflect the obligor's ability to pay. We should not give any consideration to the enactment of additional enforcement mechanisms until we have first studied and alleviated the unfairness of the orders that will be enforced. The lack of data about non-custodians and the facile assumption that all non-payment is simply the result of bad behavior has led to the demonization of non-custodial parents. The stereotype of the "deadbeat" has become so strong that the Department of Health and Human Services was actually surprised to learn that non-custodial parents do care about their children:
Research to date has produced a new and significant insight about the fathers of children born to teenagers. They typically are motivated to support their families, even when they are not married to their partners, and even though they earn disproportionately little and suffer from high unemployment.
This finding contradicts the widely held notion that young fathers are able but unwilling to support their children.
The Changing Face of Child Support Enforcement: Incentives to Work With Young Parents, Department of Health and Human Services, December 1990, page xix. One of the great tragedies for children is that this HHS report, the research of Professor Sanford Braver cited above, and other research refuting the demonization of non-custodial parents has generally not been brought to the attention of policymakers.
The popular stereotype of the "deadbeat" is the guy in the Mercedes who abandoned his children. The reality is that most delinquent obligors are economically marginal. A look at Virginia's "Most Wanted" list of "big-time evaders" is illustrative:
* * * * *
Robert Montcastle Flannery: . . . The judge ordered a wage withholding for $100 a month on Mr. Flannery's SSA benefits. The first $100 payment was received in August.
* * * * *
Ferman LaMont Payton: Mr. Payton was located in Dublin, Virginia after making application to receive food stamps.
* * * * *
Theodore Rogers, Sr.: Located on the Department of Social Services computerized client information system as a former food stamp recipient.
The Support Report, Virginia Department of Social Services, Division of Child Support Services, October 1991.
The demonization of non-custodial parents is used to justify all manner of inhumane treatment. Sylvia Folk, a non-custodial mother, testified before Congress that she was incarcerated for 72 days for non-payment. The judge candidly acknowledged from the bench his knowledge that she lacked the money to pay but vowed to and did hold her until the ransom was paid by her church. This inhumane treatment of American citizens is nothing less than a reversion to medieval kidnapping for ransom. Professor David Chambers of the University of Michigan Law School has found that, on average, "deadbeats" are incarcerated in Detroit for 90 days before the stereotype wears thin and the judge realizes that they really can't pay. By then, of course, they have lost their jobs, their cars, their apartments and their relationship with their children. The demonization of non-custodial parents has permitted us to ignore the Constitutional prohibition against debtors prison by engaging in the fiction that the jailing is for the miscreant's contempt in failing to obey the Court's order rather than for failing to pay a debt.
Under the previous administration, the United States Department of Health and Human Services was the leading force in developing new enforcement techniques. In a 1991 issue of its monthly "Child Support Report", for example, HHS recommended the technique of herding up non-custodial parents and carting them off to jail, threatening to leave them there unless they immediately charged their support arrearages onto credit cards. HHS saw no hint of the immorality of driving citizens into debt or ruining their credit ratings to obtain payments of amounts that were supposed to reflect only a fair assessment of their current ability to pay. In an unintended bit of gallows humor, however, the HHS report revealed that the new technique had little actual impact because most of the unfortunates had already been bled dry:
A survey later revealed that the majority of obligors - most of them with non-AFDC families - had neither charge cards or checking accounts.
Child Support Report, United States Department of Health and Human Services, 1991, at page 6.
Recommendations for Action
Assure that non-custodians and their advocates are adequately represented in the policy process. The importance of non-custodians as human beings and as parents is sometimes lost in the closed world of the child support enforcement bureaucracy. Each issue of the HHS Child Support Report lists a dozen or more child support enforcement conferences at which the presence of even a single non-custodial parent would be accidental. This insularity dehumanizes obligors as a class to be acted upon rather than as parents with whom we should communicate and cooperate. Every conference, meeting, or policy making session which is supported by direct or indirect federal funding should be required to include non-custodial parents and their advocates in equal proportion to the representation of custodial parents and enforcement officials.
Implement programs recognizing that child support enforcement is more than the mere invention of new coercions. Downward adjustment of an unfair order is enforcement; job training is enforcement; mediation of access disputes is enforcement; encouraging family formation is enforcement; marriage counseling is enforcement; reducing the need for income transfer and the sense of estrangement after divorce through thoughtfully developed plans for shared parenting is enforcement. Consider the popular movie, Mrs. Doubtfire. We should devote ourselves to maximizing the involvement of both parents before jumping to the conclusion that child support guidelines must contain an allowance for third-party child care.
Enforce the principle that the bureaucracy must represent all of the citizens. Federal law requires state enforcement agencies to process downward support modifications as well as upward modifications. A number of states refuse to obey this requirement because Federal regulations only provide reimbursement incentives for "more is better" collection efforts and no state offers equal access to services for custodial and non-custodial parents.
Require completion of the 1984 Congressional mandate to study and report on the "intricately intertwined" issues of custody, visitation and child support.
Give non-custodial parents the same access to federal services as custodial parents. For example, the Federal Parent Locator Service is currently unavailable to non-custodial parents even when the child's whereabouts have been concealed by the custodian and enforcement of child support continues through government agencies.
Authorize research into the gender bias in court determinations of custody and support orders.
Authorize research into the marginal costs of rearing children for purposes of providing assistance in the development of child support guidelines.
Authorize research to further measure the effect of joint custody and shared parenting upon child support compliance.
Authorize and fund permanent programs like those recently demonstrated under federal grants to encourage non-litigated resolution of access and support disputes through mediation, counseling and other conciliation services.
Mandate accountability for the expenditure of child support funds received by the custodian as is currently done for Social Security benefits received on behalf of a child.
For the past decade, child support policy at the federal and state level has been driven by the simplistic doctrine that "more is better." More dollars per month, more coercive enforcement, more is better. We need to acknowledge that "fair is better." When law-abiding citizens, who gladly supported their children during the marriage, become outlaws after going through the divorce process, it is appropriate to question whether the system rather than the people should bear the blame.
How many obligors are simply unable to meet the burden that has been imposed upon them by a chivalrous, high-income judge? How many of the "deadbeats" are unemployed, underemployed, disabled, imprisoned, or supporting two families to the best of their ability? How many are engaged in civil disobedience because they have been denied the opportunity to be real parents or even to have access to their children? Why has the Department of Health and Human Services, with all its billions of dollars, failed to carry out the 1984 Congressional mandate to study the "intricately intertwined" issues of custody, visitation and child support? Why did Wayne Stanton kill the Survey of Absent Parents? Why did the Department of Health and Human Services under the previous administration selectively report from the Census Bureau data and omit the fact that mothers themselves explain two-thirds of the non-compliance as "inability to pay"? Why did the Department of Health and Human Services absorb the negative stereotypes so fully that it was surprised to learn that non-custodial parents do care about their children?
Over the years, policymakers have developed an ability to discern the self-interest, self-aggrandizement, and instinct for self-perpetuation that afflicts the military-industrial complex and other bureaucracy/special-interest group alignments. The time has come to apply the same wisdom to the child support industry. There is no basis for further enforcement initiatives until the distortions of past stereotypes and the concealment of data have been corrected.
1. Child Support and Alimony: 1989; Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 173. Bureau of the Census, September 1991. Interstate Child Support: Mothers Report Receiving Less Support From Out-Of-State Fathers, January 1992 General Accounting Office, GAO/HRD/92-39FS, at page 19.
2. For example, the American Psychological Association adopted the following resolution at its 1977 meeting:
Be it resolved that the Council of Representatives recognizes officially and makes suitable promulgation of the fact that it is scientifically and psychologically baseless, as well as a violation of human rights, to discriminate against men because of their sex in assignment of children's custody, in adoption, in the staffing of child-care services, and personnel practices providing for parental leave in relation to childbirth and emergencies involving children and in similar laws and procedures.
3. Putting Children First: A Progressive Family Policy for the 1990's, Progressive Policy Institute, September 27, 1990.
4. Children, Family, Neighborhood, Community: An Empowerment Agenda, American Legislative Exchange Council, 1991.
5. The Changing Face of Child Support Enforcement: Incentives to Work with Young Parents, United States Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Child Support Enforcement, December 1990, page xix. The bureaucracy is not alone in its surprise:
When I first started researching this book, I was prepared to rediscover the old saw that conventional femininity is nurturing and passive and that masculinity is self-serving, egotistical, and uncaring. But I did not find this. One of my findings here is that manhood ideologies always include a criterion of selfless generosity, even to the point of sacrifice. Again and again we find that "real" men are those who give more than they take; they serve others. Real men are generous, even to a fault. . . . Manhood is therefore a nurturing concept, if we define that term as giving, subventing, or other-directed.
Manhood in the Making: Cultural Concepts of Masculinity, David D. Gilmore, Yale University Press, 1990, page 229. In August 1990, a Los Angeles Times survey reported that 39 percent of fathers would quit their jobs to stay home with their children if that option were available to them.
6. Note that the roles are sometimes reversed. When mothers are ordered to pay child support, their compliance rate is lower than that of fathers. See, e.g., 1991 Statistics of Child Support Compliance, Office of Child Support Recovery, State of Georgia; Daniel R. Meyer and Steven Garasky, Custodial Fathers: Myths, Realities and Child Support Policy, Technical Analysis Paper No. 42, Office of Human Services Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, July 1991.
7. See Non-Custodial Parent's Report of Child Support Payments, Sanford L. Braver, Pamela J. Fitzpatrick, and R. Curtis Bay, 40 Family Relations, 180-185, April 1991.
8. Statement of JoAnne Barnhart, Assistant Secretary for Family Support, Before the Subcommittee on Social Security, and Family Policy, Committee on Finance, United States Senate, March 4, 1991.
9. Interstate Child Support: Mothers Report Receiving Less Support From Out-Of-State Fathers, January 1992 General Accounting Office, GAO/HRD/92-39FS, at page 19.
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