Men who don’t pay child support and don’t see their children on time or at all get a bad reputation in the media. The alleged negligent parent tends to be skewered in society’s eyes, because it’s believed that this is a person who would rather have fun than face responsibility. Are parents who act this way really that common, though?

A report from June 15 stated that a 2011 study showed that child support was only paid by around 61 percent of men who owed it to the children’s mother. However, looking deeper into the issue, it was found that mothers who were meant to pay child support to fathers who were custodians also failed to do so at around the same rate.

In a study from the Journal of Marriage and Family, it was shown that while some fathers couldn’t pay child support in cash, they were supporting their offspring in other ways. For example, although he may not have paid the $50 to the mother, he may have provided clothing, paid for a school trip or bought food. This was particularly true in the case of disadvantaged men.

Out of 367 low-income noncustodial dads in the study, 23 percent paid child support through the child support system. However, 46 percent contributed in some way and another 28 percent gave the mothers cash directly. Only 66 of the fathers in the study didn’t give any cash support to their children, but even then, it was found that the men gave around $63 per month to each child through other kinds of support. With statistics like this, it’s important to consider these facts before heading to court. More support may be offered than it seems.

Source: Time, “How Deadbeat are Deadbeat Dads, Really?,” Belinda Luscombe, June 15, 2015