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Divorce and Family Law Matters

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Why Do Out of Pocket Child Support Payments Count?

Let’s say you’ve recently finalized your divorce, and you have to start making child support payments. Rather than go through the OAG’s office, you decide to make payments directly to your ex-spouse. That might seem faster and easier than going through the child support disbursement process—and your ex will certainly get the money sooner—you’re potentially setting yourself up for a giant headache later on.

If you pay your ex out of pocket, the OAG won’t know it, and will treat you as if you haven’t made payments, which could lead to wage garnishments and penalties. You can fill out a form that credits you for payments you’ve made directly to your ex, but your ex must sign it to acknowledge that he or she has received the payments. And, if your ex disputes it, the burden of proof will be on you to show the OAG’s office that you’ve made payments to your ex.

The best way to avoid this is pay directly through the state once your decree becomes official. Even if you have a good enough relationship with your ex where he or she will vouch for payments you’ve made directly, you’re creating more work for yourself, and relying on your ex to keep vouching for payments.

The state sets up disbursement in large part to credit you for the child support payments you’re making—making it easier to prove you’re making the payments you say you have. This can be especially useful down the road, if you find yourself seeking a modification or if your ex seeks enforcement.