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Demography. 2007 Feb;44(1):93-112.

Child support and father-child contact: testing reciprocal pathways.

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Columbia University School of Social Work, 1255 Amsterdam Avenue, Room 718, New York, NY 10027, USA.


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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