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Study examines the support paid by low income, noncustodial fathers

The unfortunate reality is that lower income, noncustodial fathers often find themselves facing a societal bias when it comes to child support, meaning many people naturally assume that they will either have trouble making payments or fail to provide any support whatsoever.

This is wrong. Indeed, consider a recently published study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, which will hopefully go a long way toward dispelling the often unfair stereotype of the "deadbeat dad."

As part of the study, published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Marriage and Family, the researchers examined 367 lower income, noncustodial fathers living in the U.S. cities of Austin, Charleston and Philadelphia.

Of these 367 fathers, 46 percent were found to contribute in-kind support to their children, including such items as clothing, shoes, baby products, gifts, food, and school-related expenses, to name only a few. Another 28 percent contributed informal child support, meaning cash paid directly to the mother and another 23 percent contributed formal child support, meaning cash paid via the courts.

The researchers discovered the following:

  • Fathers with formal child support obligations paid an average of $53 per month, per child, but also provided roughly $60 per month in in-kind support per child.
  • Fathers with informal child support obligations paid an average of $40 per month, per child, but also provided roughly $60 per month in in-kind support per child.
  • Fathers who provided no cash payments whatsoever still provided roughly $63 per month in in-kind support per child.

"I was really surprised by how much these disadvantaged guys, these truly marginally employed men, are putting all of this thought and what little resources they have into showing their children that they care," said one of the study's co-authors.

In attempting to learn why these already financially-strapped fathers are opting to devote resources toward in-kind support, the researchers deduced that it stems largely from a desire to show their children that they care or "linking love and provision in a way that's meaningful to the child."  

This is truly an eye-opening study that should hopefully change some perceptions.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding child support modification, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and your options.

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