A New Response to Child Support Noncompliance

Introducing the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt Project

By Caroline Mage, Peter Baird, Cynthia Miller

The Office of Child Support Enforcement launched the Procedural Justice-Informed Alternatives to Contempt (PJAC) demonstration to assess the efficacy of incorporating procedural justice principles into child support practices as a cost-effective alternative to the contempt process. In this context, contempt is a legal action involving the use of civil or criminal court proceedings against parents who owe child support but have fallen behind in their payments. Procedural justice centers on the idea that individuals’ perception of the fairness of an administrative or legal process and how they are treated during the process determines how they respond to it. The goal of the PJAC demonstration is to increase reliable child support payments by improving parents’ perception of fairness in the child support program. This study brief, the first in a series, outlines the PJAC model and introduces MDRC’s evaluation of six child support programs across the United States.

Mage, Caroline, Peter Baird, and Cynthia Miller. 2019. “A New Response to Child Support Noncompliance.” New York: MDRC.