A decade ago, it was unusual for mothers in Wisconsin to be required to pay child support. But because of reforms in family law and the welfare system and a shift in gender roles, a small but growing number of mothers are being ordered to pay child support in Wisconsin and across the country.
Ingrid Rothe is a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She says mothers were the recipients of four percent of all child-support orders established in 1997 and five percent in 2000.
The state says mothers make up as much as 15 percent of child-support orders and a similar portion of caseloads nationwide. Many child-support officials and family law attorneys say the trend reflects a more fair way of enforcing financial care of children. John Hayes, director of the Milwaukee County child-support agency, says 15 years ago you didn't ask for child-support orders against women.