This article examines the widespread phenomenon of exorbitant child support debt owed by noncustodial fathers in no- and low-income and predominately Black families. Drawing from qualitative data—including a court-based ethnography and in-depth interviews with lawyers, litigants, and judges—this Article explores the inflated and arbitrary nature of the debt, detailing how states utilize family law rules, child support system practices, and court processes to construct burdensome child support arrears that many poor noncustodial fathers will never have the means to pay off. It concludes by arguing that inflated child support arrears should be questioned and challenged. (Author abstract)
The child support debt bubble
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