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Helton Law Firm, PLLC

Fathers who owe child support see their children less often

Noncustodial fathers in Tennessee and around the country tend to spend less time with their children when they fall behind on their child support payments, according to researchers from Cornell University and the nonprofit group Child Trends. About 30 percent of the noncustodial fathers they studied owed an average of $7,705 in back child support, and catching up could be difficult for them because the research also indicates that they work five fewer weeks each year than noncustodial fathers who are not behind on their payments.

The study was based on data contained in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. That was a long-term study of 4,897 American families, and the researchers focused on 1,017 fathers who did not live with their children.

The fathers who owed back child support spent an average of three fewer days with their children each month and were less involved in their day-to-day activities, and this is important because research has found that both parental interaction and the timely compliance with child support obligations are important to the emotional and academic development of children. The researchers suggest that the situations of these noncustodial fathers may be a reflection of their acrimonious relationships or the result of mental health or economic issues.

The consequences of not making required child support payments can be severe, and experienced family law attorneys may encourage noncustodial parents to honor their financial commitments by reminding them of this. Courts can order the collection of unpaid child support from paychecks and it can be deducted from certain state or federal benefits, and the tax refunds of parents in arrears may also be withheld. Delinquent child support could also be reported to credit monitoring companies and may prevent noncustodial parents from renewing their driver's licenses.

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