Study Examines Child Support And Non-Custodial Parents

Study Examines Child Support And Non-Custodial Parents

Researchers have collected data about a group of noncustodial fathers who are often derisively referred to as “deadbeat dads” because of their failure to comply with their child support orders. Their study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, painted a complicated picture of how these parents contributed to their children’s lives, even when they did not pay child support. In North Carolina, as elsewhere, noncustodial fathers often provided in-kind contributions, such as buying food and baby products, instead of making cash payments.

According to the study that looked at 367 lower-income men, nearly half of them covered some expenses for their children. On average, they spent $60 per month on in-kind support such as clothing and food. Only 23 percent of the parents paid through the court system. One of the authors of the study, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, said that these men genuinely wanted to show their children that they cared. Directly providing for their children created a parent-child bond.

Sometimes when a father does not pay child support, the mother denies access to the children. Fathers who visit their children, however, contribute to the family more often. The study reported that fathers who saw their children at least 10 hours a month gave twice as much in-kind support as those who did not spend any time with their children.

A custodial parent who is not receiving any type of support, whether court-ordered payments or in-kind contributions towards everyday expenses, might choose to work with an attorney to determine whether any method for child support enforcement is available. Options for collecting payments could include the interception of income tax refunds and wage garnishment, and an attorney might assist with the process of obtaining an appropriate court order.

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