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Unpaid child support, less time spent with children linked

New Jersey fathers who do not pay child support may be less likely to see their children than fathers who do pay according to a study conducted by a scientist at the nonprofit Child Trends and a professor at Cornell University. The study, which appeared in the Journal of Marriage and Family, looked at a group of families and their children from their birth to the age of 9.

The average amount owed by fathers in the study who had fallen behind on payments was $7,705, and more than 30 percent of the fathers fell into this category. These fathers were also more likely to have been incarcerated and to have had children with more than one partner. They generally worked fewer hours and had less education. In addition to spending less time with their children, they also provided fewer items such as toys and clothes.

Child support can be critical to children's financial well-being and has also been linked to better academic outcomes. The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, along with local and state agencies, helps to enforce the payment of child support through a number of penalties that can range from garnishing wages to fines and jail time. Parents paid more than $32 billion in child support in 2015.

Despite the link between parental involvement and child support, one penalty that in most cases can not used to compel a parent to pay child support is restricting the parent's access to the child. A parent who is having problems collecting child support from the other parent may want to go through their local or state office for child support enforcement. If custodial parents do not have a legal child support agreement in place, they might want to speak to an attorney about how they would get one.

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