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Illicit Substance Use and Child Support: An Exploratory Study

Publication Year: 
Personal Author: 
Lauren Antelo
Dr. Annette Waters
Corporate Author: 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary for
Page Count: 

For noncustodial parents in the formal child support program, having a substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD), might affect their ability to access and maintain employment, and consistently pay child support. Many child support agencies acknowledge that there has been a rise in illicit substance use among noncustodial parents. Yet there has been scant research looking specifically at how substance use among noncustodial parents affects the formal payment of child support. This research begins to address this gap. Through an environmental scan and discussions with experts in four states, we investigate the prevalence of illicit substance use (with a particular emphasis on opioid misuse) among noncustodial parents. We study the potential influence that SUDs have on child support payments. We explore how child support enforcement programs approach substance use and opioid misuse. Finally, we investigate how and in what ways SUD treatment can be integrated into child support programs. Our principle research question is: What is the effect of having a substance use disorder on child support outcomes, such as the payment of formal child support?

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