Tips for Child Support Payors

  1. Document every single payment. Checks with the month of the support noted on the check are best. Automatic draft works well.
  2. Mail the check and confirm the mailing with an email, or keep a copy of an enclosure letter.
  3. Pay attention to timely negotiation of the check. If the check is not negotiated, check with the receiver to see why. This can be done by email. One client told me her husband would not cash the support checks until much later, hoping to cause her problems with her checking balance.
  4. Don’t substitute other payments for support. For example, if you buy your child some sneakers, don’t deduct the price from the support, even if the other parent suggests it. The payment for the sneakers could be regarded as a “voluntary payment” and not support. One client told me her husband intentionally baited her into doing this so he could collect the deficient support from her.
  5. Don’t pass the check through the children. This places the children in the middle between the warring parents.
  6. Don’t withhold support over visitation or other disputes. Family Law requires a person seeking help from the court to have “done right” themselves. It's called “the clean hands doctrine.”
  7. Pay on time each month. A record of late payments may cause trouble with a judge someday. Late payments wreak havoc with the receiver’s budget. This causes ill will and may lead them to retaliate in some way.
  8. Don’t leave the check somewhere for pick up such as your front door mat. Court’s expect support to be delivered.
  9. Do not reduce your payment because your wages are down, even if the other side agrees. This sets you up for contempt since the law requires written the change to the order by the Judge before payments can be changed.
  10. Don’t suspend or reduce your payments on your own if a child lives with you or stays with you more than planned in the order. This can lead to a contempt action. Again, the courts do not allow people to change their obligations on their own, even by agreement. The Courts expect people to obtain Court permission to change a court order.
  11. If your income goes up or down significantly, consult an attorney.
  12. If you are paying for college and room and board away from home, consult an attorney to see if you are entitled to a reduction or suspension.
  13. If either party has moved to another State, check with an attorney about the nature and extent of laws in the new state to see if rights or obligations may have changed.
  14. Don’t discuss support with a child. When a child asks for money or payment for something, don’t respond, “that’s why I pay support to your mother…what is she doing with all of that money?” This harms the children.
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