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Are goods as good as money when it comes to child support?

Providing child support is about more than just money; it's also about supporting a child and playing a role in his or her life, even if it is only a financial role. But if a father doesn't have the money to pay support, does that mean he is a "deadbeat?"

The value and importance of child support cannot be overstated. However, there are other ways that fathers try to support their children, even when they cannot meet their financial obligations. With Father's Day right around the corner, this can be a good time to explore the challenges that some fathers face when it comes to paying child support and what some are doing to try and compensate for delinquency.

Recently, a sociologist surveyed hundreds of fathers who are dealing with poverty and struggling to pay child support. The survey revealed that many fathers fail to make payments because they have lost their jobs, served time in jail or do not have a steady income to rely on.

It was also noted that many fathers -- especially those who regularly spent time with their kids -- contributed in-kind support for their children by buying diapers, gifts, food and other goods. While this support usually goes undocumented and is not in accordance with formal support payments, it can still be of benefit to the kids.

With all this in mind, the authors of the study suggested that in-kind support be tracked and considered in association with traditional child support. The argument being that these contributions are still important and should not be ignored. Additionally, it can help change the perspective that all fathers who fail to pay child support are delinquent and do not want to take responsibility for their children.

What do you think? Should in-kind support be taken into account when looking at whether financial obligations for a child are being met? 

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