Fathering Courts

Fathering Courts are problem solving courts that use alternatives to incarceration in an attempt to assist non-custodial parents with unpaid child support and enhance the delinquent parent’s employment options. The purpose is to increase child support payments, reduce expenditures by the state, and improve relationship between non-custodial parents and their children.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.

Child Support Enforcement

  • White, Hon. A. Ellen and Craig M. Burshem. Problem Solving for Support Enforcement: Virginia’s Intensive Case Monitoring Program. (2012). Future Trends in State Courts 2012.  National Center for State Courts. Virginia’s Intensive Case Monitoring Program uses a unique collaboration between the juvenile courts, the Division of Child Support Enforcement, and various community agencies to overcome barriers to consistent compliance with child support orders, to reduce jail overcrowding, and to promote the involvement of noncustodial parents with their children.
  • Noncustodial Parents: Summaries of Research. (2009). Department of Health and Human Services, Administration of Children and Families, Washington, D.C. This is a state by state listing of programs that assist noncustodial parents many of which include court involvement.

Fatherhood Initiatives

  • Responsible Fatherhood Programs. (June 2010). Statement by David Hansell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Administration for Children and Families U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) before Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Income United States House of Representatives.
  • Macoubrie, Jane and Daniel J. Hall. Achieving the Full Potential of Reentry and Fathering Courts. (March 2010). National Center for State Courts. This report reviews the fathering court movement and the convergence with reentry court programs.
  • Jane Macoubrie. Converging Trends in Fathering and Reentry Courts. (2010). NCSC:  Future Trends in State Courts. Father's problem-solving courts are increasing across the country, as are programs for ex-prisoners.  This article reviews the current state of the field, the diverse roles courts currently have, and discusses success factors not usually identified as best practices in problem-solving courts.
  • Schroeder, Daniel and Nicholas Doughty Texas Non-Custodial Parent Choices: Program Impact Analysis. (2009). Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin. This is a review of a pilot project linking IV-D courts, OAG child support, and local workforce development boards.
  • Sorensen, Elaine, Carolyn O'Brien, and Ronald B. Mincy Strengthening Families Through Stronger Fathers Initiative. (2009). The Urban Institute, for the New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. This initiative authorizes the implementation of two innovative approaches to help low-income noncustodial parents (nearly all of whom are fathers) to work and pay their child support in full.
  • Birmingham Fatherhood Initiative. A community-based parenting education, support, and case management program designed to prevent child maltreatment through increasing the father's involvement in their lives, increasing employment, and ultimately increasing child support payments.
  • Georgia Fatherhood Program. This provides judges an alternative to jailing non custodial parents who are behind on support.
  • Non Custodial Parent Choices. This program is a collaborative effort of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), local workforce development boards, and family court judges.
  • The Family Employment and Support Program (FESP). This court-supervised program in Baltimore, Maryland assists non-custodial parents who are behind in their child support payments. Participants are required to submit employment applications and meet with court coordinators weekly for job referrals.

Fathering Court Programs

  • D.C. Superior Court’s Fathering Court Program honored by Harvard. (September 2010). This press release describes D.C.’s program which helps fathers just out of prison reconnect with their children.  The program has been given the Bright Ideas award offered through the Innovations in Government Program, at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School.
  • Fathering Court Getting to the Heart of Child Support. (October 2009). National Center for Fathering. This report summarizes the development of this problem solving court model which provides an alternative to prosecution and incarceration of individuals who are behind on their child support.
  • Ashton, Joy Child Support Dockets Benefit from Using Problem-Solving Court Principles. (2006). National Association of Judicial State Educators. This article describes the application of problem-solving principles to child support dockets.
  • Connecticut  Family Support Magistrate Court. The Connecticut Family Support Magistrate Court (IV-D court) has statutory authority to "enter an order for the obligor's participation in an education, training, skill-building, work, rehabilitation or other similar program" designed to increase the obligor's ability to fulfill the duty to support.
  • DC Fathering Court. District of Columbia Superior Court. This is a voluntary court proceeding and re-entry program operated through the DC Superior Court. Participants must have child support orders for children who live in the District of Columbia, and the legal custodian/guardian of the child (or children) must agree to support the overall efforts of the program.
  • Jackson County, Missouri Fathering Court. The Fathering Court was designed to establish financial responsibility of parents for their children. Fathers who are charged with criminal non-support may have the opportunity to participate. Rehabilitation through the Fathering Program provides an alternative to a criminal record and a jail sentence.