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“I’m Not Supporting His Kids”: Noncustodial Fathers’ Contributions When Mothers Have Children with New Partners

Many nonresident parents provide informal and formal child support to their children who do not live with them. Although there is a significant body of research on formal child support, much less is known about informal support. More specifically, little is known about trends in informal support, especially whether informal support changes as family relationships evolve, for example when parents have children with new partners.

In this report, the authors examine the existence of, and trends in, informal support for resident mothers who were in the first cohort of TANF participants in Wisconsin. The authors find that informal support is fairly common at the beginning of the study period, but declines over time. Declines in informal support are more likely for mothers who have children with new partners. Difference-in-difference results suggest that fathers are less likely to provide support that is not child-specific when another father’s children are added to the household.

This research complements other work examining how fathers respond to complicated families through the formal system. Because family complexity is becoming increasingly common, the policy response in the child support system and in other systems is quite important.


Child Support, Child Support Policy Research, Complicated Families & Multiple-Partner Fertility, Orders & Payments, WI Administrative Data Core