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Many noncustodial fathers offer in-kind support

Fathers in Virginia may be interested in a new study showing that the popular image of "deadbeat dads" who fail to pay child support may be unearned. According to the study, many fathers who do not pay court-ordered child support offer support in other ways. Census data has revealed that in 2011, an almost equal percentage of noncustodial fathers and noncustodial mothers paid the amount of child support that they were supposed to.

The study found that among the 367 men with lower incomes that were surveyed, about half provided items such as food and baby products. Just under 25 percent paid child support as it would be recognized by the courts, and just over 25 percent gave money to the mother directly.

The 66 fathers in the study who did not give mothers any money still offered in-kind support. One of the study's authors says that many fathers feel more like providers when they contribute to their children in these ways. Doing so strengthens the bond between father and child in a way that is not possible by simply paying child support through the courts. The study also reported that fathers who spent more time with their children tended to offer more in-kind support.

Despite these findings, in most cases, it is still necessary for a noncustodial parent to pay court-ordered child support, and the parent may also be responsible for other expenses such as education and health care. Unfortunately, some parents find it difficult to meet their obligations due to subsequent unexpected changes in their financial circumstances. Many decide to turn to family law attorneys for assistance in preparing and submitting to the court a motion for a modification of the order.

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