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Warning for Child Support Payers: Document, Document, Document!

Thirty years ago I represented a yard man who was sued by his wife for back-due child support going back 20 years. The wife testified as to the amount of support and said the man never paid. The man was a yard man who made an honest living but did not have a checking account. He scraped together a few money order receipts for support but that was about all he could come up with. In what I still regard as one of the most inequitable rulings ever, the Judge found this poor man in contempt because he couldn’t prove he had made payments and certainly could not prove he made payments 15-20 years ago. The Judge ruled it was his burden.

Despite the inequity of the ruling, it was right in a legal sense. All payors of obligations must know that it will be their burden to show they made payments they were supposed to make. All payments should be made by check or other means which can be clearly documented. Automatic deposits in bank accounts is a great method. Documentation as to the nature of the payment should be clear. Payments for different things should not be combined in one check or payment, but separated: e.g., payments for medical reimbursement in one check, payments for school activities in another, and child support in another. Roberts v. Roberts, NO. 2012-CA-01523-COA (4/1/14)