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Paternal involvement and child support debt

U.S. non-custodial parents paid in excess of $32 billion in child support during the 2015 fiscal year through the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. These amounts were applied to the expenses incurred by custodial parents in North Carolina and around the country for caring for and raising their children. Typically, parents who do not have primary physical custody are ordered by courts to make these payments. There are many fathers in the United States who do not live with their children. The results of a study indicate that those who owe back child support tend to see their children less, have children with multiple people and work fewer weeks a year.

The study was conducted by two researchers who obtained the data from a longitudinal survey of 4,897 urban families whose members included children who were born between 1998 and 2000. The researchers state that their study is one of the first to use national data to determine if fathers who do not reside with their children are less likely to see them and provide in-kind assistance.

There were a variety of observations drawn for the results of the study. Approximately 30 percent of the 1,017 noncustodial fathers that were targeted by the study were behind in their child support payments, and they owed an average of $7,705. Fathers who owed back child support tended to work average of five fewer week a year than those who were current with their payments. They spent less time with their children, averaging three fewer days a month. They also provided less in-kind support, such as toys, medicine and clothes.

Many custodial parents rely on the timely payment of child support to help defray the considerable costs of raising their children. Those who are frustrated in their efforts to collect it may want to meet with a family law attorney to see if more stringent methods of enforcement such as wage garnishment might be available.