Toward a Fuller Understanding of Nonresident Father Involvement: An Examination of Child Support, In-Kind Support, and Visitation

Steven Garasky, Susan D. Stewart, Craig Gundersen, Brenda J. Lohman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The majority of studies of nonresident father involvement focus on either child support payments or visitation. However, nearly 60% of custodial parents receive in-kind (i. e., noncash) support of some form. Using data from a nationally representative sample of children with nonresident fathers (the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics), we simultaneously investigate via a trivariate probit model the relationships among three aspects of father involvement: child support, in-kind support, and visitation. We find that these dimensions of involvement are positively related and highly intertwined with the strongest positive relationship being between in-kind support and visitation. Additionally, these aspects of involvement have different sets of determinants. Economic characteristics of the resident household are more frequently associated with the receipt of child support, while demographic characteristics of the child, mother, father and resident household are related to all three aspects of nonresident father involvement. Generally speaking, when differences in impacts of determinants vary for lower and higher income resident families, the differences are related to the receipt of child support. Fewer differences are observed with regard to in-kind support receipt or with visitation. Our model also measures how unobserved factors are related to these facets of involvement. Most notable across income groups is that unobserved factors are positively related for child support and in-kind support receipt for higher income resident households. This relationship is insignificant for lower income resident households.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-393
Number of pages31
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Child Development Supplement
  • Child support
  • In-kind support
  • Nonresident fathers
  • Panel Study of Income Dynamics
  • Visitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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