The Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) demonstration project integrates procedural justice principles into child support enforcement business practices in six child support agencies across the United States. Procedural justice is the idea of fairness in processes that resolve disputes and result in decisions. Research has shown that if people perceive a process to be fair, they will be more likely to comply with the outcome of that process whether or not the outcome was favorable to them.
PJAC's target population is noncustodial parents who are not compliant with their child support obligations, but who have been determined to be able to pay their child support. The goal of PJAC is to improve consistent payment among noncustodial parents who are at the point of being referred to the legal system for civil contempt of court for failure to comply with their child support orders. PJAC aims to accomplish its goal by addressing parents’ barriers to providing reliable payments and by promoting positive engagement with the child support program and the other parent.
This brief is the first in a series developed primarily for child support practitioners and administrators that shares lessons from the PJAC model’s implementation. It describes the specialized training provided to child support staff members at the six participating agencies.