In a previous blog entry, we talked about the problem with paying child support by cash. When a parent who is ordered to pay child support pays by cash, there is no record of the payment itself.

In many cases, the parent who received the cash may deny that they received the cash payment. Further, the parent who received the cash might just have forgotten the payment months or years later.

State authorities who oversee the collection of child support also will often not credit child support payments made by cash. Instead, these child support authorities want to see a check to verify the payment was made.

Child support authorities often want to see the child support paid by a wage withholding order. When there is a wage withholding order, the state child support authorities can verify the payment was made. In some states, child support can be put on a debit card for the parent receiving the support.

The problem with giving diapers, formula and tangible gifts

On a similar note, when an infant is born, many unmarried fathers want to help. They love and care about their child. There might not even be a child support order in place yet.

Thus, what many unmarried fathers do is buy diapers for the baby. They might even buy formula, clothing, baby furniture, and other tangible items for the child. The act of buying these items certainly shows the father cares. It is also done in order to help support the child.

However, if the state child support authorities, or the court system, later gets involved, it can be tough to get credit for these tangible items bought for the child. Many unmarried fathers do not keep a receipt for these items months or years later.

Sometimes, the mother might acknowledge receive of the items. But in other cases, the mother may not acknowledge it or may have forgotten all the specifics.

When this happens, many unmarried fathers can find themselves very far behind on their child support with little or no credit given for the items they bought for their child in good faith. For unmarried fathers, a large child support amount owed can be problematic and hard if not impossible to repay.

Give a check or send money through an application instead

While buying diapers, formula and other tangible items might seem like the right thing to do, the better approach for most unmarried fathers is to write a check to the mother and write “child support” on the memo line. Even if there is no child support order yet, writing “child support” on the memo line memorializes the purpose of the payment. With this money, the mother can then buy the diapers, formula, clothing and other tangible items.

Today, there are lots of great applications out there where money can be sent as well. Applications like Zelle, PayPal, and Venmo are three applications where an unmarried father can send money to the mother and memorize that the purpose is for child support.

Then, when the child support authorities question whether child support has been paid, it can be easy to either produce the check or the verification within the application that money was sent for child support. In these circumstances, it is much more likely that the father gets credit for what was paid.