Court jurisdiction

Many decisions were required prior to creating the income-to-needs ratios. Court jurisdiction was the main consideration when decisions were made. The questions and subsequent decisions are detailed below. First, should prior child support orders be deducted from the obligor's income for children other than those considered in the current divorce? It was decided that any prior support reported in the final decree that was paid for children not considered as part of the current divorce, would be deducted from the obligor's income, because the child support order takes into account any prior support paid by the obligor.

Second, should prior support received for children, other than children considered for the current divorce, be added to the obligee's income? It was decided that support received would not be added to the obligee's income because the court does not consider this when making child support orders. The next two questions considered how to treat taxes and public aid or assistance when calculating income. Third, should taxes be estimated in some manner and subtracted from the parties' income?

No taxes were subtracted from the parties' incomes because tax information was provided for very few individuals. Fourth, should public assistance or other aid be added to a party's income? Public assistance was not included in the analyses because there was little information provided in the decrees, and because court orders for child support should not depend on whether parents received public assistance. The last three questions considered several factors that affected whether or not a case was included in the analyses.

Fifth, should parents who are in jail be included in the analyses? There were only two cases where an obligor was in jail and they were removed. Sixth, should emancipated children be included in the analyses? The court does not have jurisdiction over emancipated children; therefore, they were not included in the analyses. Seventh, if a party is ordered to pay child support on a child that is not his/hers, should the case be included in the analyses? If the court-ordered child support to be paid, those children and the child support orders were included in the analyses.

However, any child that was not of both parties, where support was not ordered, was not considered in the analyses because the court did not have jurisdiction. The above decisions determined the number of people in the household so that it was possible to create the income-to-needs ratios for the male and female households. Each formula was checked by hand for accuracy by randomly selecting cases in the database and manually checking each variable created in each formula.

When any inconsistencies were found, the syntax for that formula was re-checked and re-written. Cases were then randomly checked again by hand to verify that the syntax and variables were calculated correctly. Measures There were twelve dependent and three independent variables in the repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) that are described in the following paragraphs. The dependent variables were 12 income-to-needs ratios based on the denominators of poverty level income guidelines for the household size.

Income-to-needs ratios, which divide monetary income by a standard for monetary needs, are a measurement often utilized in divorce studies (Braver, 1999). Six different incomes were used as numerators for the ratios; incomes provided by the actual court order and five additional strategies. Six separate income-to-needs ratios were calculated for male and female post-divorce households. There were two within subject variables: strategy, which had six levels (actual court order and five other strategies) and household/gender, which had two levels (male and female).