08 March 2016

Child Support Rarely Sought By Teen Mothers In Colorado

[O]nly about 2 percent of the 10,000 children of teen parents in Colorado have open child support cases, meaning the vast majority of young mothers aren't seeking child support[.]
From the Denver Post.

There is a reason for that.  Apparently the vast majority of fathers of children of teen mothers have very little ability to pay child support. But, the Court process to get a child support order is time consuming and isn't free.
[T]he purpose of enforcing the child support requirement for teen moms is not the money. Both sides agree that young fathers, especially if they're still in school themselves, won't have much to give.

"We don't expect to collect money from these kids," said [Colorado Counties, Inc. lobbyist Pat] Ratliff.

But she said going through the child support process is the "most obvious and most logical way to keep a father involved."
But in the 46 Colorado counties, anyone who wants money from the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, or CCCAP, needs to have a child support order in place, unless you attend Denver's Florence Crittenton High School. The Colorado General Assembly is considering a bill, HB 1227, that would eliminate this requirement for teen mothers and domestic violence victims.

Also lurking out there, not always stated publicly, is another big reason that a lot of single moms don't seek child support orders (and often don't list the father's name on the birth certificate either, even when the father's name is known). Seeking a paternity determination or a child support order almost always invites a finding of some parenting time for the father, which is a price that teen mothers are overwhelmingly not willing to pay.

They don't want, often emphatically don't want, the guys who got them pregnant in their lives or their children's lives, because those guys are bad news or losers.  The guys worth keeping in their lives or their children's lives marry them or at least cohabit with them and help raise their children voluntarily.

While a great many fathers of the children of teen mothers wouldn't pay child support or be involved, even if they were legally recognized as fathers, many single mothers, in general, prefer the control that comes from not having a father with whom they are not in a relationship in the picture, even given the modest financial cost of foregone child support from a man who often isn't very economically successful, even if he does have some earnings.  And, one of the great lessons of economics is that even people who you might not think are all that bright or capable usually act in a manner that is rational from their own perspective.

The fact that a significant number of teen mothers don't seek child support orders in and of itself isn't that surprising.  But, the fact that only 2% of them do, when the father's of the children of teen mothers are often in their twenties and at least sometimes employed (certainly less than 2% are uncollectible), is a surprise.

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