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Busting the deadbeat dad myth with in-kind child support

What does in-kind child support mean? Essentially, it means that noncustodial parents, traditionally fathers, provide their children with food and necessities in lieu of or in addition to traditional child support payments.

It's important to understand that providing gifts instead of child support payments without a court order is not legal and may get you into hot water with Tennessee family law courts.

With the disclaimer out of the way, it is time to learn more about the benefits of in-kind child support. In a ten-year study led by Johns Hopkins, it was discovered that so-called "deadbeat dads" often provide more for their kids than dads paying traditional child support do.

The study participants involved 367 low-income fathers in several American cities. A few important findings of the study are listed below.

  • Fathers who paid traditional support spent $38 per month on average.
  • Low-income dads spent an average of $60 per month with in-kind support.
  • The lower a father's income, the more he spent on in-kind support.
  • Low-income dads report that providing in-kind child support helps them form a better bond with their kids.
  • More low-income black fathers give their children in-kind support than white fathers do.

In-kind child support can take many forms, such as school supplies, clothing, food, baby supplies and even furniture. One of the study authors expressed surprise about how much thought disadvantaged fathers put into bonding with and providing for their children. She added that the nation's current child support system may damage the bond between a father and child by separating an act of love from the act of merely providing.

Again, it is important to understand that you cannot replace child support payments by giving gifts unless your court order allows you to do so. However, you might want to consider talking with a Florida attorney to find out if adding in-kind support to your existing order is a possibility.

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