Child receiving moneyThis is the next post in my series discussing how child support issues are handled in child custody cases. My last article explained the importance quickly dealing with child support arrears. I also discussed solutions for how a parent can get caught up on payments or, in some circumstances, have their payment modified to a lesser amount. In this post I will be explaining how a parent can defend themselves if they are in a dispute over whether or not a payment has been made.

The most direct way to avoid payment disputes is to not pay the other parent directly. Virginia’s Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) allows parents ordered to pay child support to make payments directly through the agency’s website. This feature allows parents to set up automatic payments, keep track of what they owe, and have money taken directly out of their accounts. The Commonwealth also allows parents to mail a check to the Treasurer of Virginia. In either case the Commonwealth will then deposit money into the payee’s account. These methods prevent any arguments over whether or not a child support payment was made. Either parent can request that child support payments be made through the state rather than directly to the receiving parent in order to avoid squabbles.

If a parent does make payments directly to the receiving parent then it is important to keep meticulous records in order to avoid false allegations. Never make a payment to the other parent in cash; always keep the copy of the check written and a copy of the bank statement showing money being withdrawn from your account. If you and your ex have made some type of agreement that you will make payments, directly buying specific items, or paying specific bills for the child, then ensure that you keep all receipts and records. For example, if you agree to pay your child’s health insurance, buy them school clothing and supplies, or pay another bill regarding your child’s well-being, then keep all records of the transaction.

A parent ordered to pay child support should be cautious in making a verbal agreement with their ex to pay directly for certain items for their child in lieu of a check. If you are court-ordered to make a child support payment then a judge may not give one “credit” for the “extra” items they have paid for. If there is a specific reason you wish to have your child support “credited” through making certain direct payments then it is important to speak to your attorney. For example, if you do not believe your ex is using your child support money for the children’s benefit then it may be possible to go to court and ask that monies be used for specific purposes. However, until a new agreement is reached, it is important not to stray from the court order.

The best way to avoid child support disputes is to keep meticulous records and, if necessary, make all payments through the Commonwealth. If money is paid in cash then it becomes your word against your ex’s. If you have a child support dispute then do not ignore the issue.

Contact our office to speak with a child support attorney.