California children whose fathers are behind in child support payments may also spend less time with those fathers according to research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. The study looked at nearly 5,000 families over nine years and based its findings on how much child support the child was receiving and how much contact the child had with their father at the age of nine. More than 1,000 noncustodial fathers were included in the study.
Fathers spending less time with their child also tended to mean they give less in-kind assistance such as toys and clothes and less time doing regular activities together like homework. Fathers who fell behind in child support were more likely to have been incarcerated and had lower education levels than fathers who were not behind. They were also more likely to have children by multiple partners. Researchers found a link between regularity of support payments and the father’s mental health, hours worked and relationship with the child’s mother.
Custodial mothers received about two-thirds of the child support due to them according to a 2016 U.S. Census Bureau report. Mothers sometimes pay support as well, and in the same year, custodial fathers received around three-quarters of the support they were owed.
Parents may decide that the child will spend roughly half their time at each of their homes, and if this is the case, it is possible that neither will pay child support. However, one parent might still owe spousal support to the other. While a legally binding child support agreement means that a child support enforcement agency may garnish a parent’s wages or take other steps to enforce support payments, a parent cannot cut off visitation as a consequence of not paying.