I paid my ex in cash for child support. Will the court give me credit for it?
In Utah (where I practice family law), the answer is: yes. And while I cannot speak for all jurisdictions, I would presume that most other jurisdictions have similar laws or rules in place.
For those of you wondering why this is an important question, this is why: if you don’t have independently verifiable, documented proof that you have paid child support, and the child support payee/recipient claims that you have not paid, the burden is on you and you alone to prove you paid. And if the only evidence of payment that you have is your word against your ex’s, you will lose the argument every single time.
So, before I finish my answer to your question, a word to the wise: never, ever pay child support in cash, if you can avoid it. If you must, for some reason, pay in cash, get a receipt from your ex acknowledging payment (amount paid, date paid). pay child support by check, money order, direct deposit, or through the child support collection agency (in Utah, this state agency’s name is the Utah Department of Human Services Office of Recover Services (known as Office of Recovery Services or just “ORS” for short).
Indeed, in my professional opinion, the best way to pay child support and to have proof you have paid child support, is to have your states child support collection agency garnish your wages (also known as “income withholding”) or to pay child support directly to the child support collection agency. Whether you are garnished or pay child support to the collection agency, the result is the same: the agency will make a record of your payment and forward payment to the child support payee. This way, you cannot ever be accused of not paying child support because the collection agency is responsible for collecting that payment and/or keeps a record of you making payment to the agency, and so it would be virtually impossible for the child support payee to accuse you, successfully, of nonpayment. Just remember that if you don’t let the collection agency garnish or paychecks, and if you pay child support directly to the collection agency, you will still want to keep independent documentation of those payments, in the event the collection agency fails to give you credit.
So, if you have been paying child support in cash to your ex, and your ex is willing to sign a statement (usually in the form of a sworn affidavit, but if your jurisdiction requires that you use a particular form and/or follow a particular procedure, make sure you do exactly as required) and submit that statement to the court acknowledging that you have paid in cash and stating how much you have paid, you are an extraordinarily fortunate person. And while it’s only right for someone who has received child support to acknowledge it and to give credit where credit is due, there are far too many child support payees who get paid in cash, then deny ever having been paid, and end up double dipping on child support by getting a judgment against you for child support falsely claimed to have been “unpaid”.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277