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How court-ordered child support might harm children

Parents in Rhode Island who are receiving or paying formal child support will be interested to learn about a recent study linking court-ordered child support payment to increased aggressive behavior in children. The study suggests that children of unmarried parents who live with their mothers and receive court-mandated financial support from their fathers exhibit more aggressive behavior than those who don't get any formal child support at all.

The Rutgers University study indicates that for young children of unmarried parents, an informal and amicable agreement between the mother and father might lead to a better emotional environment and better cognitive skills.

"We want to be careful and not say that formal support is bad," said one professor of Social Work. She adds, "For most mothers it is hugely important. But it might not be working for all types of families."

She went on to suggest that perhaps the fathers who are ordered to make payments are violent, have problems with drugs, spank the children or have bad relationships with the mother. Only 20 percent of unmarried fathers not living with their children paid formal child support by the time the child was 3-years-old, while 40 percent provided informal support.

Another possible explanation for the increased cognitive skills in the children whose fathers did not make court-ordered payments may be that these fathers not only give money to the mother when they can, but perhaps they also come around and are more involved in the child's life. An attorney with experience dealing with child support cases can help with the procedural and substantive legal steps in addressing these issues.

Source:, "Downside to court-ordered child support," Janice Wood, May 15, 2012

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