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The Declining Trend of Child Support Cases in Monterey County, California: An Ethnographic Study Exploring the Dynamics of Case Closures

  • Author(s): Rother, Katherine
  • Advisor(s): Levine, Nancy
  • et al.
Abstract

Child support is a topic rarely treated in anthropological literature. This ethnographic research study fills part of the gap created by this oversight by examining the recent phenomenon of the declining child support caseload in Monterey County, California to ascertain the specific factors influencing the parent’s decision to close the case. A more holistic picture of the closure process is painted by looking at case closures from the perspectives of the caseworkers and parents through interviews, observations, and surveys of a total of 53 participants from varied backgrounds. Overall, this study found that misconceptions of the child support system, displeasure and frustration with the way the system works, and dissatisfaction with the amount of money received are leading factors in the parent’s decision to close the case. These findings suggest that the declining trend of child support cases in Monterey County is impacted largely by parent dissatisfaction with the child support system and the agency itself.

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