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A different view of "deadbeat dads"

New York fathers who abandon their financial responsibility to their children are often the target of scorn and derision. Around the county, 2011 census data showed that men paid less than two-thirds of the child support that they owed to the mothers of their children.

However, the official child support statistics do not tell the whole story. Some women have child custody obligations to the custodial father of their children. About the same percentage of women pay the court-ordered amount of child support as men. A recent study of low-income noncustodial fathers reveals that some dads who do not pay their child support through official channels provide assistance in other informal ways.

In the study, 46 percent of the fathers gave in-kind support, such as diapers, food and school supplies. Another 28 percent of the dads paid cash straight to the mom. These types of contributions are generally not reflected in the reported child support statistics.

One might wonder why noncustodial fathers provide in-kind support or direct cash payments. An author of the study says that the dads get more recognition from their kids for these payments which, in turn, strengthens the bond between father and child. A custodial parent who is not receiving child support payments as ordered by the court may do well to consider other contributions the noncustodial parent does or could make. While no parent should be allowed to avoid the obligation to support his or her children, the noncustodial parent may be more likely to contribute informally as a means of preserving the link between loving and providing. In addition, such a parent may wish to speak with a family law attorney to determine whether filing a motion for a modification of the order would be appropriate.

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