Marriage, Parentage, and Child Support
While child support calculations have become a matter of routine, the parental determinations, on which they rest, have not. Marriage once served as a system to channel childrearing into two-parent families. Within this system, the marital presumption discouraged efforts to inquire too closely into circumstances that might rebut a husband’s paternity and the stigma against non marital births and divorce eliminated much of the need for such determinations. Today, forty-one percent of American births are non marital and Americans lead the world in family instability. Yet, no comprehensive system has arisen to replace marriage or the marital presumption. This articles reviews the most recent decisions governing parentage, the marital presumption, the use of estoppel to lock in parenthood, liability for child support and the likelihood of continuing disagreement among the states in the allocation of responsibility for children.