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Study looks at contributions of so-called deadbeat dads

Many people in Massachusetts view a man who doesn't pay his monthly child support bill as a 'deadbeat dad." A new study that was published in the June issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family demonstrated how many of these so-called deadbeat dads don't deserve the nickname. According to a sociologist who authored the study, low-income dads end up appearing distanced from their children on paper while they are actually giving their children a lot.

The study looked at 367 noncustodial fathers who earned low incomes. Although only 23 percent of them contributed money through the child support system, 46 percent contributed cash directly to the mother, and 28 percent of the fathers contributed other resources besides cash. While there were 66 dads who contributed absolutely no cash support, even they gave an average of $63 per child each month in clothing, baby products, food or other items.

The results of the study demonstrate what many sociologists view as a problem with the child support system. Fathers are often denied access to their children for failing to make child support payments even though these parents may be contributing a lot of resources to their children directly.

A noncustodial parent who cannot afford to make child support payments may want to petition for a modification to the child support order. To ensure that the judge is presented with accurate information, a parent might want to have help gathering evidence for their petition from an attorney. A family law attorney may also be able to represent a noncustodial parent who is being denied access to their child because they owe back child support.

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