NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. Eyes British Child-Support Reforms

October 20, 1999

Both Britain and the U.S. have lousy records when it comes to collecting child-support payments from absent fathers. But the Brits are about to initiate a change in the system that officials hope will increase compliance rates.

It will abandon the cumbersome process by which bureaucrats figure out what each father owes based on detailed family financial dossiers and replace it with a flat-rate formula.

  • Fathers would be required to pay 15 percent of their income to support one child, 20 percent for two, and 25 percent for three.
  • Under present procedures, they must navigate through 50 pages of complicated instructions and questions -- enough to discourage even the most dedicated parent.
  • While legislation has yet to be drafted, it has no major opposition in Parliament and is expected to take effect in about 2001.

The proposed changes and any improvements they bring will be watched carefully by authorities in the U.S. -- where the compliance rate for our 20 million cases is a miserable 20 percent.

Source: Kevin Johnson, "Can 'Child Support' Live Up to Its Name?" USA Today, October 20, 1999.


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