The “deadbeat dad” is a common stereotype that everyone is likely familiar with but surprisingly very little research has been done into this phenomenon. How many fathers are actual “deadbeats?” Do they constitute a majority? What is happening when a father refuses to pay child support? A recent study tried to find some answers.

A researcher set out to respond to these questions and found that 38.65 percent of fathers, the largest group of respondents, were unable to pay child support because they lacked the funds. Of course, this could still indicate a pattern of refusal to accept responsibility, but it could also indicate a willingness to pay but that fathers lack the means.

The second largest group of respondents, 23.33 percent, refused to pay child support because the mother would not permit them to see or visit with their child. Withholding child support is a common tactic that many parents use to achieve their goals. But it is important to remember that the child support is owed to your child, not his or her mother, so the courts will take a dim view of parents that use child support to force the hand of the other parent.

The next group, 14 percent, claimed they refused to make payments because they have no control over how the money is spent. The last two groups were both 12.67 percent. One group stated that they refuse to care for the child because the mother is the one that chooses to keep it and the other claimed they were not the father of the child.

Child support disputes are serious. If you are engaged in one, you may want to speak to a lawyer. Your income could be levied, accounts seized or you could even go to jail. Having a lawyer on your side means that you won’t be taken advantage of or mistreated.