• child support order;
  • economic well-being;
  • low-income fathers;
  • resident mothers

Abstract: Using a more comprehensive accounting than previous studies, we examined the economic impact of child support orders on residential mothers and children compared to nonresidential fathers and how that impact differed across income levels. With the inclusion of child support and other expenses associated with raising children, the well-being of mothers and children fell by 37% compared to a decline of 16% for nonresident fathers, relative to their standard of living while intact. We also found significant differences in the child support obligation rate across income levels with low- and middle-income fathers facing much greater child support obligations than high-income fathers. Additionally, although the poverty rates of low-income fathers were high at 28%, those for low-income mothers and children were almost 3-fold higher at 73%.