The Public Interest

Shouldn’t low-income fathers support their children?

Blanche Bernstein

Winter 1982

THE title of this article may seem odd. If any proposition would receive an extraordinarily high affirmative vote in a national poll, it is that parents are responsible for the care and support of their children if they are physically, mentally, and financially able to be. In particular, the father is regarded as having this obligation, whether he is present in the house or not. It is a principle embedded in national and state laws governing domestic relations. And yet there has always been some gap between this principle and reality, and this gap has widened in recent decades as divorce rates have skyrocketed and the number of children born out of wedlock has risen each passing year.

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