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The connection between child support and paternal involvement

A study has found that fathers who do not pay child support are also less likely to spend time with their children. Georgia fathers who are behind on support may also be less likely to provide their child with items like toys and food or to take part in activities such as helping them with homework.

The researchers identified a number of other commonalities among parents who had fallen behind on support. Fathers who did not pay support were more likely to have been incarcerated and worked fewer hours. They tended to have less education and might have more children from other relationships.

This is not the first study or report that has looked at child support and coparenting. In 2015, a study found a slight increase in out-of-wedlock childbirth among mothers who received child support. An earlier one found that even if parents split up, if they could maintain a functional co-parenting relationship, the child tended to remain connected with the noncustodial father. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2016 that about a quarter of fathers and about one-third of mothers did not receive all the child support that was owed to them.

Parents who find themselves struggling to pay child support may want to go to court and ask for a modification of support if there has been a change in their circumstances such as a job loss. If the parent is behind on support and the modification is approved, the parent will still owe back pay for the period before the modification was in place even if their changed circumstances are the reason they fell behind. For this reason, a parent might not want to delay asking for a modification.

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