Perceived Norms of Child Support Payments: A Comparative Study of South Korea and the United States

Document Type


Publication Date



The fulfilment of Child Support payments following divorce is important to ensure children’s wellbeing. Guided by a model of normative influences, we investigated how individuals perceived Child Support payments in South Korea and the United States and if they varied by child’s gender, custody arrangements, changes in the responsible father’s finances, and his financial obligations to an aging parent. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected from 132 Korean and 132 U.S. participants by utilizing a multiple segment factorial vignette (MSFV). Korean respondents believed more Child Support should be paid than did U.S. respondents. Custody arrangements and changes in the fathers’ finances affected perceived financial obligations of divorced fathers to the child regardless of participants’ country. Having an aging parent in need affected Koreans’ perceptions about Child Support in different ways than U.S. participants. Qualitative responses indicated that Koreans emphasized paternal obligations, whereas U.S. participants stressed the issue of fairness as a rationale. We discuss the results of this study in relation to Child Support compliance in both countries and suggest implications for research and practice.