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Cash, check or wire: What is the best way to pay child support?

On Behalf of | Aug 10, 2021 | Firm News |

Many parents in Florida who are divorced or never married have an ongoing court-ordered child support arrangement. It may be going smoothly with the payments received on time or the paying parent might be late on payments if they are having financial issues, made a mistake, or even due to a banking or electronic snafu.

Whether the parents are on good terms or have an adversary relationship, if the payor misses child support payments, the recipient will likely attempt to collect that money. They may be able to resolve the matter informally or in a negotiated agreement. If not, the payee may choose to go to court to collect the arrears.

In such a dispute, the payor will need to prove the payments they have made – especially if the recipient is saying they did not receive payments the payor remembers making. The bottom line is that when making child support payments, the payor needs to document each payment for a potential dispute later over whether they actually paid the money.

Payment options

Obviously, a cash payment will be the most difficult to verify later such as in court or settlement negotiations. No paperwork or electronic record accompanies a cash payment. If cash is necessary, options to try to prove payment include:

  • ATM or bank withdrawal slip
  • Requested, signed receipt from the recipient parent
  • Affidavit or testimony of anyone who witnessed the cash transfer
  • Affidavit or testimony of the payor about the details of the transfer (keep a notebook with the details of each cash transfer inscribed)

A cash payment can be converted to a money transfer such as through Walmart-2-Walmart or Western Union, or to a cashier’s check or money order bought with cash.

Non-cash payment methods normally have records built into the process. For example, a cleared check or transfer from the paying parent’s bank account to the recipient will generate bank records. Wiring money should also create a business record and receipt.

With these kinds of payment methods, the transactions should generate receipts. The customer should also request (or make) a copy of the instrument and of any business record produced in the transaction.

Of course, new electronic payment methods are constantly evolving – think PayPal, Venmo, Zelle and Google Pay. All of these should create electronic records that can be used as proof. Be sure to keep related emails and take screenshots or print any online receipts or proof of payment.

The bottom line is that anyone paying child support should try to make money transfers as formal and documented as possible.

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The Law Office of Forrest & Forrest, PLLC represents individuals in Fort Lauderdale in high-asset divorce matters. Daniel Forrest is board-certified family lawyer and mediator serving the South Florida area.