Child Support Reassessed: Federalization of Enforcement Nears Completion
Linda D. Elrod | 1997 U. Ill. L. Rev.
Of the many areas of recent interest in family law, few have attracted so much attention as efforts to reform the law of child support. In this essay, Professor Elrod considers the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), which represents the most recent effort by Congress to federalize the enforcement of child support. Professor Elrod begins by outlining some of the pre-1996 efforts to enforce child support obligations. These efforts were federalized with the passage of the Family Support Act of 1988, which created the U.S. Commission on Interstate Child Support to propose ways to improve the interstate establishment and enforcement of child support awards. After studying the issue, the Commission made 120 specific recommendations to Congress for reforming state child support systems and for establishing and enforcing interstate awards. Professor Elrod then discusses some of the major legislative initiatives that resulted from the Commission's recommendations, including the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, and the Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act of 1994. Professor Elrod then turns to the PRWORA, which is the final piece of legislation included in the Commission's recommendations. She explains how the PRWORA will increase federal enforcement of child support by, among other things, creating registries for support orders and by streamlining procedures for the establishment of paternity. Professor Elrod concludes by offering some comments on these new developments, which have privatized and centralized the support of children. She offers a number of questions for policy makers to ponder, including the possibility of a return to more public responsibility for children.
* Distinguished Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law; editor of the ABA Family Law Quarterly, for the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association. B.A. 1969; J.D. 1971, Washburn University. I would like to thank Harry Krause for his many scholarly contributions to the development of family law, for his beautiful use of the English language, for being a mentor to so many, and for giving me the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.