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This study of the Child Support Agency (CSA) compares the accounts of former husbands and wives with those of their respective legal advisers, and incorporates the experience and views of the CSA staff, who attempted to calculate and enforce child maintenance obligations in the same cases. The media picture of misery visited upon ""absent fathers"" is borne out in part, but the book also describes a catastrophic administrative failure which led to the abandonment of many of the basic tenets of administrative justice. The reasons for this do not lie in the perceived unfairness of the formula, but rather in the failure of those drafting the Child Support legislation to appreciate the impact of such change upon the rest of our hugely complex benefit structure, and their failure to grasp that the problems of inadequate disclosure and ineffective enforcement could not be tackled effectively by a distant bureaucracy.