Predicting Mothers' Child Support Spending

Elizabeth Cozzolino, University of Texas at Austin

Although about half of all U.S. custodial parents have a child support agreement, there is little research on how custodial parents spend their child support (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2011). Drawing on a sample of nonmarital births, I seek to understand how custodial parents prioritize their child support funds. I examine three types of child support expenditures: spending on child-specific expenses, household expenses, and a mother’s personal consumption. Using multinomial logistic models, I find that child support receipt, formalization, and reliance predict spending patterns and are not explained away by controls. Frequent receipt predicts spending on child-specific needs. Child support formalization, reliance, and sufficiency each predict spending on household in addition to child-specific needs, whereas custodial parents who report receiving enough child support also spend on personal expenses.

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Presented in Session 2: Legal and Policy Aspects of Complex Families