California residents may often hear about fathers who fail to pay child support, as more mothers still raise children on their own than fathers. A study appearing in the Journal of Marriage suggests that “deadbeat dads” and fathers with a low income are not necessarily the same. It found that many poor fathers who do not live with their children still try to contribute to their children’s lives even if they do not pay child support.

The study showed that some fathers who had limited funds still tried to offer something like clothing, school expenses, food or baby products. Nearly half of the fathers who were cash poor provided an average of $60 a month. While not all fathers tried to make contributions to their children, a representative of the study commented that those fathers who were the most disadvantaged seemed to be the ones who cared a lot about their kids and tried to provide what they could.

Looking at 367 men with low income, 23 percent gave child support through the system. More than 2 percent of these dads gave cash to the mother while 46 percent gave in-kind support. More than 60 noncustodial fathers offered no cash support for their children but did provide an average of $63 a month per child through in-kind support that does not show up in statistics.

The child support process is often confusing and misunderstood, so a parent may wish to consult an attorney when dealing with it during divorce proceedings. Courts will look at the particular state’s guidelines when calculating the amount, but an attorney for a parent who will be ordered to pay support may be able to demonstrate to a judge why a deviation would be in order.