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How fathers with lower incomes provide support for their children

Making sure children of divorce are cared for is a top concern for all parents. However, in a challenging economic landscape, it is often easier said than done. While formal child support remains a major resource in providing for children, financially disadvantaged dads have found other ways to contribute to the care and well-being of their kids.

A recent study led by Johns Hopkins University in collaboration with the University of North Carolina and other educational facilities found that low income fathers often end up contributing as much or more than fathers paying traditional support. Called in-kind support, these contributions are typically material goods rather than cash, but they appear to be a valuable addition to caring for children of divorce.

The study examined 367 financially disadvantaged, non-custodial fathers in three American cities. Kathryn Edin, a professor of sociology and co-author of the study, said she was surprised to learn how these fathers "are putting all of this thought and what little resources they have into showing their children that they care."

Here are some examples of what the study revealed:

-- On top of formal or informal cash support, dads who provided in-kind support contributed an additional $60 each month per child in material goods.-- In-kind support items contributed include valuable goods like diapers, clothing, school supplies, cribs, food and gifts.-- 66 of the low-income fathers in the study who would ordinarily be categorized as "deadbeat dads" gave $63 per month per child through in-kind support.-- The study revealed that these low-income fathers see providing in-kind support as an opportunity to further their bond with the children.

Traditional child support will remain an important part of providing for America's children, but in-kind support also fills an equally important role.

For divorcing couples searching for non-traditional ways to handle the financial needs of their kids, consider speaking with a divorce attorney to explore the options.

Source: Johns Hopkins University, "Love and Money: How Low-Income Dads Really Provide," accessed July 07, 2015

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