Child support and father-child contact: Testing reciprocal pathways

Abstract

I use three waves of panel data to examine the relationship between child support payments and fathers’ contact with their nonmarital children. I disaggregate support into fathers’ formal and informal payments and incorporate cross-lagged effects models to identify the direction of causality between payments and contact. After including the behavior from the prior wave (lagged term) and a rich set of family characteristics, I find a marginally significant effect of paying formally at Time 1 on the likelihood of contact at Time 2 but no effect of contact at Time 1 on formal payments at Time 2. In the first examination of the relationship between informal support and father-child contact, I find a strong, positive reciprocal relationship between the likelihood and frequency of father-child contact and the likelihood and amount of informal support, with slightly stronger and more consistent effects of contact on payments than of payments on contact.

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Support for this research was provided by a grant (R01-HD-35301) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. I gratefully acknowledge Irv Gar nkel, Marcy Carlson, Julien Teitler, and Nancy Reichman for their ideas, suggestions, and encouragement. I also thank several external reviewers and the editors for their helpful comments.

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Nepomnyaschy, L. Child support and father-child contact: Testing reciprocal pathways. Demography 44, 93–112 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2007.0008

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Keywords

  • Child Support
  • Informal Support
  • Informal Payment
  • Nonresident Father
  • Nonmarital Birth