You have a child, and you are separated from the child’s mother. She has not put you on child support, but you want to give her money each month to help her with expenses related to the child. You should keep track of any money given to her, and give her money in a way that is verifiable. Why? Because the mother can request that you be put on child support at any time. Once the Florida Department of Revenue or local Child Support office files a petition for support on the mother’s behalf, you, as the father, are immediately subject to owe “back support” for up to two years prior to the petition being filed. Florida will give you credit for any voluntary payments made during that time, IF you can prove that you made those payments.
- Related: Retroactive Child Support vs. Child Support Arrears: What’s the Difference & How Does the State & Federal Government Enforce Them
How not to make voluntary payments of support:
• Give cash to the mother. ATM receipts showing cash withdrawn from your bank is not sufficient evidence of payment.
• Give cash directly to the child. Child support is an obligation owed to the child, but must be paid to the custodial parent. Any cash given to the child is a gift, and is not child support.
• Pay the mother by money order. While this is somewhat verifiable, and can be used to get credit, money orders are not a recommended method of payment. If the mother denies cashing the money orders, you would then have to pay $15.00 per money order to get proof of whether it was cashed.
• Pay for extracurricular activities, phones, cars, or other nonessential items for the children. While it is nice to provide luxury items for your child, expenditures on things such as karate lessons, phone bills, and car insurance are generally not considered child support.
The following are recommended ways to pay child support:
• By check. The old stand-by, and still the best way. Make use of the subject line to write something like “June 2015 child support for Jane”. If you don’t have carbon copies, take a photo of the check before delivery. The check should also show up electronically once cashed, and a photo can be printed from your bank’s website.
• Direct deposit.If the mother will provide you with her banking information, set up an automatic transfer from your bank account to hers each month. Again, make use of subject lines. If you only have cash, go to her bank and make a deposit. Again, keep record of any deposits made.
• Direct payments of daycare/aftercare. Any direct payments of childcare can be credited toward your child support obligation if the childcare is required for employment. Be sure to keep receipts of any payments made toward daycare. A statement showing that the daycare expenses have been paid is not very valuable unless it also shows that you made the payment.
If you are facing a petition for support, and need help getting credit for voluntary payments, or you lived with the mother and paid housing expenses on her behalf, call DADvocacy today at (305) 371-7640 to set up a free consultation with one of our child support attorneys in Miami or visit www.DADvocacy.com for more information.
Emily Dunn, Esq. is a family law attorney and passionate advocate for fathers and families who does her best to resolve disputes while maintaining the parties’ long-term relationship by bringing a cooperative approach to the table.