Many divorce and custody clients ask whether they really do need a child support order. The answer I universally give is, “Yes.” Here are a few great reasons:
- A child support order is enforceable. If you and your child’s other parent simply agree to exchange some cash on the side instead of child support payments, that’s all fine until the payments stop. Then what do you do? It takes months to get a child support order in place, months when your child is not being financially supported.
- CSEA may not credit payments made without a child support order. The Child Support Enforcement Agency does not have to give credit for payments made when there is no child support order in place. So, especially if you’re unmarried parents, all that money could have to be paid twice!
- Payments need to be made as ordered. To be sure to get credit for child support payments, they need to be made the right way – whether it is through wage withholding, direct debit, or otherwise. There are horror stories out there – true ones! – of child support obligors writing checks to pay tens of thousands of dollars of the other parent’s bills, even with written permission to do so in lieu of a child support payment, and then getting stuck with having to pay the other parent the money all over again.
If you owe child support, get a child support order so you get credit for the payments you make. If you’re owed child support, get an order so you can be sure to get paid what you need to raise your child. Either way, get help from an attorney experienced with these matters instead of just letting it go.