By Sue Varon, Esq. and Jennifer Varon
Non-custodial parents pay child support in a variety of ways. Divorced parents should be provided with all possible options for making these payments. Some new options have emerged both in the public and private sectors.
Perhaps the most common way child support is paid is through an income withholding or income deduction order, which is issued to the employer of the payor, and mandates payment of support directly to the recipient. In most states income deduction orders have been mandatory unless (1) there is a written agreement between the parties specifying an alternative arrangement, or (2) there is a court order finding good cause against it and finding that the income deduction order is not in the child’s best interest.
However, income deduction orders can be problematic. If the payor is self-employed, periodically unemployed, or is paid only on commission, income deduction orders may have little effect. Moreover, many payors do not wish to disclose to their employer their private matters. Also, some employers refuse to comply without a court order. Further, recipients of support do not want the payor to know their bank account information, which would be necessary if the payor’s employer is to follow the income deduction order.
Most states have established agencies for the enforcement of child support orders. The problem is these agencies have huge case overloads, suffer intermittent backlog of work, and delay in transferring payment to recipient. Consequently, many custodial parents have to resort to private suits for enforcement through contempt, garnishment, and use of private child support enforcement companies. Problematically, many private child support enforcement companies charge astronomical fees for their services, deducting a large percentage (as high as 34%) from the child support collected, and in addition, charge annual fees (some as much as $500).
In reality, most divorce cases settle privately and, divorce lawyers draft settlement agreements providing for the required “alternative arrangement” for child support payment. The settlement agreements include the amount of monthly support due, the manner it shall be paid, how often, and until when. A paragraph should also be included in the settlement agreement that provides if payments fall behind more than 30 days, garnishment for support is allowed.
The most common manner of private payment is still paper check. Of course, the worst delivery method is through the child, at the conclusion of the payor’s visitation time. When mailed, payment by check sets up the classic problem of “the check is in the mail” and real or false accusations of late receipt.
Both payors and recipients of support complain that they hardly use paper checks anymore. Payors do not want to deal with mailing support checks when they pay most bills online. Recipients do not want to deal with waiting to get the check in the mail, driving to the bank, and waiting in line, to deposit the check. Further, if the recipient is out of town when the check arrives, the deposit will be delayed even further.
Most people do not want to use the government agencies to transfer the support from payor to payee. The parties have been involved in the court system during the divorce process. After the conclusion of the case they want to handle things privately, outside of government involvement. The solution: payment of child support online by credit card through a private company, rather than the government. Using a rewards credit card to pay support could allow the payor to earn cash back rewards or frequent flyer points. Better yet, setting up payments on a recurring basis would be convenient to the payor. The benefit to the recipient would be receiving the full amount of support conveniently directly deposited into their account whether they are home or not on the date support is scheduled to arrive. Bringing the payment of child support into the 21st century would prevent a lot of post-divorce conflict that too often happens.
SupportCertain is the brainchild of Sue Varon, a Georgia family law attorney and her daughter, Jennifer, an accountant with a Master’s Degree. The company was established to provide divorced parties with “the peaceful way to pay”, minimizing interaction between the parties, while providing them with a way to make and receive support directly and on time. For further information, visit www.supportcertain.comor contact SupportCertain at firstname.lastname@example.org at 404 551-4849.