Be clear, be precise and cover all bases. Those are the basic things you should remember when drawing up an agreement with your ex-partner especially when it comes to your child’s financial support.
That being said, you should choose a primary payment method but be prepared to have back up methods too. Think about the possible situations that could hinder your ex-spouse from sending money. Reasons like “access to the internet for online fund transfer” or “check was not deposited in time” and many others must be anticipated. Luckily, there are several methods you can use for payment collection.
How it is Done: This is done by setting up an online banking account to automatically deposit the child support payments each month, similar to utility bills.
Advantages: Since the transfer is scheduled, there is hardly any reason for delay. Both sides can anticipate and plan for the cash inflow and outflow from their respective accounts. Additionally, it can also serve as a paper trail or documentation in case there are conflicts or questions arising from missed payments.
Disadvantages: The paying spouse may cancel the auto payment anytime. Banks do not have any control over the payments that their clients are making. Of course, non-payment of child support could land a spouse in jail, so there is a strong incentive to keep those obligations up to date.
How it is Done: Technically, you can ask a friend or a relative to act as a third party that will act as the median for the payments. That means having someone you both trust to deliver the payment from your ex-spouse to you.
Advantages: The third party may also serve as a medium of communication between you and the paying spouse.
Disadvantages: There is no paper trail and the third party is just as vulnerable to natural human conditions that could delay the payment like illness, out-of-town vacations, and others. This is not an ideal situation.
How it is Done: If there is reason to believe that the paying spouse will not send payment each month, an attorney can help in asking for this provision. This will ensure that the paying spouse’s employer will be obligated to collect and send the child support on behalf of the paying spouse.
Advantages: This is actually a common provision in many divorce agreements, as it allows both parties to forego dealing with each other, effectively letting the paying spouse’s employer handle all the proceedings. It also assures the receiving spouse the money for as long as the paying spouse is employed.
Disadvantages: This method is not without its downsides. For one, the employer will most likely not appreciate the extra administrative burden, and may reflect badly on the paying spouse. Also, if the paying spouse becomes unemployed, it is very likely that you will lose any means to force payment. It will also become an issue if the spouse is self-employed. One solution to this is to ask the attorney to discuss the possibility of posting a bond, which can be used in the event that payments are not sent as promised.
How it is Done: This is another option if you have reason to believe that the paying spouse does not want to pay child support consistently, or at all. Or you can choose to save it as a last resort if you want to try the other, less heavy-handed, means of collection first.
Advantages: It saves your from communicating with your ex-spouse. The agency will also be exhausting all avenues and resources that will allow you to set up a payment method, saving you from all those troubles.
Disadvantages: Agencies will vary in their function and policies depending on your location and the governing body of your state. Some states, for example, charge a fee for their services.
There are no easy answers to the issue of child support compliance. This is a very difficult issue, especially in these economically challenged times. I have clients on both sides of this equation. How can people be forced to pay if they have no means? How can they find a job if they are in jail? How can their children survive without their parents financial obligations being met? Start by getting professional advice on how to collect Child Support from a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.