WI Law in Action Podcast: Tonya Brito Discusses the Child Support Debt Bubble

Photo of UW Law School professor Tonya Brito.On the most recent episode of the WI Law in Action podcast from the UW Law Library, Jefferson Burrus-Bascom Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School and Faculty Affiliate with the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin, Tonya L. Brito, discussed her newly published article, “The Child Support Debt Bubble.”

Prof. Brito’s article examines the widespread phenomenon of exorbitant child support debt owed by noncustodial fathers in no- and low-income and predominately Black families. Drawing from qualitative data—including a court-based ethnography and in-depth interviews with lawyers, litigants, and judges—the article explores the inflated and arbitrary nature of the debt, detailing how states utilize family law rules, child support system practices, and court processes to construct burdensome child support arrears that many poor noncustodial fathers will never have the means to pay off. It concludes by arguing that inflated child support arrears should be questioned and challenged.

To check out more of Professor Brito’s work, visit her profiles on SSRN or the UW Law School Digital Repository.