Paying child support without a court order
Paying child support without a court order is a question that comes up very often in my practice. This can apply anytime there is a child between two people, whether the couple is married, or unmarried. Here is a common scenario. You’ve moved out of the home. You’re certain that the relationship cannot be saved. However, neither of you has gone to the Court to file the appropriate paperwork (i.e. Petition for Divorce or Petition for Child Support). Here are the questions I often hear from such a scenario regarding paying child support without a court order.
Question: Am I required to have a court order?
Legally speaking, if you do not have a court order, you are not mandated to make child support payments. On the other hand, without a court order, the other parent has no obligation to pay either so it can be difficult for you to seek support from that person. In other words, there is no legal obligation for a parent to pay child support without an order to do so. If support is later sought, it can be collected retroactively but only so far back as the date that the Petition has been served upon the parent.
Practically speaking, your child(ren) are entitled to financial support from each of his/her/their parents. If you are the person that moved out, the other parent is now paying the bills and the child’s expenses on his/her own. How fair is that? Should that parent really have to file a legal document for you to assist with your kids?
Often I have situations where a parent has been paying and doing everything right but somewhere along the line things communication between the parents have broken down. Maybe someone has moved on into another relationship and there is a need to seek revenge on that parent. Maybe one parent is still angry over the breakup. Whatever the cause, the child/ren should never become a casualty in a battle between parents. Here are some common support related issues and their solutions. Have a different scenario and need help? Email me HERE or call me (978) 225-0661 to discuss your matter.
Can I get credit for what I have already paid
I paid in cash. She says she will deny. What are my options?
I always tell my clients, “Keep a receipt, pay with a check or have some type of written proof.” In the event that your proof lies in the bank account that you no longer have access to because the other parent has removed access, that’s where you really need an attorney to help. Paying support in cash is simply never a good idea. That said, if you have already done this, you need to gather the proof to show the Court that you paid through the discovery process (if at all – this can be difficult to prove). The Court will not get involved in he said/she said situations, so unless it can be proven, it will be as if it never happened. Hire an attorney if you find yourself in this scenario. It’s a difficult process to navigate on your own.
Does my support have to be paid through my employer?
Can I fight this without hiring a lawyer?
As with any legal issue, you can always proceed on your own. However, there are likely to be problems that arise throughout the process that warrant the expertise of a family lawyer. We have a great article on reasons to speak to an attorney you may wish to read at this link. Our office also offers a free phone consultation. You can read more about that here if you wish to consider it. Paying child support without a court order can be a tough one to work out and having an attorney not only ensures that you pay the correct amount but will help minimize your chances of going back to court later. You can’t navigate the process on your own and then hire an attorney later if you have trouble. You have one chance to get this right, so hire an attorney and do it right the first time.