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Study finds "deadbeat dad" stereotype misleading

Based on the results of a study that was recently published, some Pennsylvania fathers who are not paying the child support they should may be supporting their children in other ways. Furthermore, despite the common perception of divorced fathers as "deadbeat dads," roughly the same percentage of mothers and fathers who are required to pay child support fulfill those obligations.

According to one of the study's authors, some fathers feel that contributing to their children's lives by purchasing food, school supplies and other needed items is a way of bonding more effectively. The study found that of the more than 350 lower-income fathers it examined, nearly half contributed with these types of items. Around 28 percent gave cash directly to the mothers. Only about one-fourth of the fathers in total were paying recognized child support through the system.

The study found that even the 66 fathers in the study who contributed no cash support at all still gave in-kind support that amounted to an average of $63 per month. Researchers called for a child support system that better recognizes the way fathers bond with their children and the different ways in which they might offer support.

A parent who must negotiate child support may wish to consult an attorney. While there are state guidelines for calculating support, they are based in part on factors such as how many children an individual supports and a child's medical needs. Furthermore, child support amounts can be changed if a parent's circumstances change. A custodial parent who has been ordered to pay supports and who loses a job, has a child with a new partner or has some other material change in circumstances may wish to obtain the assistance of a family law attorney in petitioning the court for a modification of the order.

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