Monday, May 8, 2023

Debt governance, wealth management, and the unequal burdens of child support

Allison Tait (Richmond; Academic google), Debt Governance, Wealth Management, and the Unequal Burdens of Child Support, 117 NW. UL rev. 305 (2022):

Child support is a ubiquitous type of debt, common to all levels of income and wealth, with data showing that approximately 30% of the US adult population has been subject to or received child support . However, in this field of child support debt, unpaid obligations look different for everyone, and in particular, experiences around child support debt differ radically for low-income and high-net-worth populations. At the low-income end of the spectrum, child support debt is a sophisticated and adaptive governance technology that disciplines and penalizes those living in or near poverty.

However, being in debt for child support on the rich end of the spectrum produces completely opposite results. Wealthy child support payers have the ability to protect themselves from debt and the consequences of non-payment in ways that other families and individuals can never replicate. In this way, the alimony debt is a legal and financial formation that incorporates divergent rules, disparate modes of execution and unequal opportunities. It is a bimodal system that penalizes low-income debtors and exonerates high-income debtors in racialized and differentiated populations. And so understood, the system is an amalgamation of oppressive but flexible forces that bear traces of the imperial, the colonial, the historical, and the inherited.

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