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Child Support in America: PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR NEGOTIATING--AND COLLECTING--A FAIR SETTLEMENT by Joseph I. Lieberman (Yale University: $14.95; 122 pp.)

November 09, 1986|Janet Kaye | Kaye is a lawyer and writer at work on a collection of short stories. and

The author, Joseph I. Lieberman, attorney general of Connecticut, considers non-payment of child support to be "a national disgrace. There is no more widespread and profoundly consequential example of lawlessness in our society today than fathers' refusal to care for their children after divorce," he writes.

The statistics he provides are indeed disturbing: Of the 4 million women owed child support in 1981, 28% received none. Fewer than half received full payment. Nor does alimony provide an indirect answer. It is granted in only 15% of divorce cases, Lieberman says.

Having presented the problem as one that burdens society's welfare system as well as injures the wife and children, Lieberman then offers specific suggestions as to how women can minimize their chances of contributing to what is widely called "the feminization of poverty."

He provides valuable advice on topics ranging from choosing a lawyer to drafting a document that will expand to include increases in the cost of providing for the children.

And he warns women not to assume that they will not have the problem of non-payment of court-ordered child support. There is no correlation between payment or non-payment and the type of relationship the father had with spouse or children, he writes. Equally surprising, there is no correlation between remarriage of a parent and payment or non-payment of support.

Covering the various state laws that apply to support cases cannot be comprehensively done in 122 pages, and Lieberman is aware of that. He provides a list of state agencies and child-support advocacy groups for those who require more specific advice or information than "Child Support in America" contains. But the information he does provide is useful and cogently presented. "Child Support in America" is a real public service.

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