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Testimony of Ronald K. Henry, Attorney-At-Law,
Before the Subcommittee on Human Resources,
Committee on Ways and Means,
United States House of Representatives, June 30, 1992
As we gather to discuss American families today, 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
Unfortunately for children, public policy initiatives too often consist
of bandaids 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 ideology 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 data base
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 pay." 
The Committee is to be commended for authorizing these hearings. 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". Congress needs thoughtful, dispassionate analysis of
the role of Federal policy in family breakdown and parent absence.
Before Congress considers more mechanisms for federal enforcement of
state domestic relations orders, it needs to better understand those
orders and the people against whom enforcement is sought. Is
noncompliance simply bad behavior or are we making unfair demands? It
is my personal belief 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 for Congress 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 o f 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
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
In approximately the last 20 years, the pendulum has begun swinging
toward a more centered position  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 Institute  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
The view from the right by groups like the American Legislative Exchange
Council  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 i s 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 Divorce
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
sleep overs 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. 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 is just a devoted father as far as I can see. 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.  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 o f 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 no n-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,  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 underreporting 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. 
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 "noncompliance" 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. I
recently met with senior officials of the Office of Child Support
Enforcement of the United States Department of Health and Human Services
to request data on why child support payments are not made. I learned
that very little data exists and that none of it is publicized. The
United States spends approximately $1 billion on child support
enforcement yet the United States Congress has no data on how many of
the 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 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 3 1, 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
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.
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 reported that the reason for not receiving
payment was "father unable to pay." 
Even without hearing the obligor's side of the story, then, we know 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. This committee should not give any consideration to the enactment
of additional enforcement mechanisms until it has 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
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. I have no doubt 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 this Committee by the bureaucracy or its special-
interest group supporters.
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:
Frankie L. Adams: Mr. Adams is out of jail and making payments;
however, he is unemployed.
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. This Committee has already heard from Sylvia
Folk, a non-custodial mother who 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
The United States Department of Health and Human Services is 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 achieved marginal imp act 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
1. HHS should be required to 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 dehumanize s
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 n on-custodial parents and their advocates
in equal proportion to the representation of custodial parents and
2. 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 the
use of shared parenting after divorce is enforcement.
3. 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.
4. Require the Department of Health and Human Services to complete the
1984 Congressional mandate to study and report on the "intricately
intertwined" issues of custody, visitation and child support.
5. 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.
6. Authorize research into the gender bias in court determinations of
custody and support orders.
7. Authorize research into the marginal costs of rearing children for
purposes of providing assistance in the development of child support
8. Authorize research to further measure the effect of joint custody
and shared parenting upon child support compliance.
9. 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
10. 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. My
position is 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 selectively report
from the Census Bureau data and omit the fact that mothers themselves
explain two-thirds of the noncompliance as "inability to pay"? Why has
the Department of Health and Human Services absorbed the negative
stereotypes so fully that it was surprised to learn that non-custodial
parents do care about their children?
Over the years, Congress has 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 by the Congress until the distortions of past stereotypes
and the concealment of data have been corrected.
X. References and Footnotes
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 GAO, 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
3. Putting Children First; A Progressive Family Policy for the 1990s,
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. Lest I be accused of my own sexual stereotyping, 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 on 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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