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Child Support Payment Method and Father-Child Contact

43 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2011  

Samara Gunter

Colby College - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 17, 2010


I examine whether state laws that changed the default payment method for child support affected fathers' frequency of contact with their children and their provision of in-kind support. Within-state variation in the timing of child support orders around withholding laws and the variation in implementation of state withholding laws are used to instrument for withholding status. For fathers who are not in arrears, withholding reduces the amount of time fathers spend with their children and the likelihood of providing in-kind support. Results are consistent with previous experimental work suggesting that automatic payment methods such as credit cards or automatic payments alter consumption behavior.

Keywords: payment method, child support, father-child contact, salience

JEL Classification: D19, J12

Suggested Citation

Gunter, Samara, Child Support Payment Method and Father-Child Contact (November 17, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Samara Gunter (Contact Author)

Colby College - Department of Economics ( email )

Waterville, ME 04901
United States

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