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A study that appeared in the June issue of Journal of Marriage and Family indicates that deadbeat dads, a colloquial term referring those who do not keep up with their child support payments, may not be as irresponsible as appearances indicate. Although the researchers found that just under a quarter of fathers looked at in the study provided what the court system considered to be child support, in-kind support was very common as well as giving cash directly to the mother.

In-kind support is not considered to be a form of child support by the court system, but it does not mean it does not have financial value. About half of the 367 lower income fathers looked at by researchers provided support in the form of baby products, food and clothing, worth an average of $60 per month. This type of support does not show up in statistics but still shows that many supposedly deadbeat dads are attempting to provide for their children.

It is also of note that although deadbeat dads are commonly referenced, women are generally no better at providing support if they are not custodial parents. Census data shows that the percentage of non-paying fathers is about equal to that of non-paying mothers.

Child support payments can help to ensure that a single parent is able to handle the financial obligations associated with raising a child. However, it is important that the payments take into account both what is needed to care for children and what the noncustodial parent can afford. A lawyer may assist in the preparation of an order modification motion for a parent who needs to have the amount adjusted based upon an adverse change in their financial situation.