This study examines the relationship between child support enforcement threat and paternal depression. Using Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing data (N = 2,564), results show that fathers are more likely to experience depression if interaction with child support enforcement is an imminent threat or has occurred compared to fathers who are not under such threat. The association between child support enforcement threat persists even after controlling for prior child support enforcement threat, prior depression, and selection characteristics. We also find that mastery explains some, but not all of the association. Findings suggest that child support enforcement threat may act as a chronic stressor that is somewhat mediated by mastery. The relationship between child support enforcement threat and depression is concerning given the growing numbers of fathers at risk of interaction with child support enforcement as well as the documented associations between depression and other deleterious outcomes.
Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity