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Don't fall into these child support traps

Avoiding common pitfalls involving child support payments that are owed or being paid is important to maintaining an ongoing positive relationship with your child's other parent.

Some of the common problems parents can face include:

-- Making unauthorized modifications to payments. If the court has set your support payments, this amount is expected to be paid each month. While there certainly are legitimate reasons parents can request modifications to their support payments — changes in pay rates or jobs, children's changing needs and dire financial straits — for any changes to be legitimized, the court must grant approval. Verbal agreements and even texts or emails to that effect may be insufficient to keep you from being in arrears on your payments.

-- Making late or undocumented payments. Custodial parents depend on regularly scheduled child support payments to meet their child's needs, and when these payments are late, havoc can result. Courts recognize this and frown on non-custodial parents who routinely are late or behind on their support obligations.

Another potential landmine occurs when a non-custodial parent gives the child's other parent cash that cannot be documented with banking records or receipts. A disagreement later could cause the custodial parent to claim that the payments were never made.

Using inconvenient methods to pay support obligations. Income withholding and direct deposits into the custodial parent's account can be used to your advantage. Having to write and mail checks or purchase money orders is obsolete in the digital age and can unnecessarily delay support payments.

If you continue to struggle to meet your monthly support obligations, it may be time to consider a child support modification. Your family law attorney can advise as to whether this option is appropriate in your present circumstances.

Source: ourfamilywizard.com, "Preventing Child Support Pitfalls," accessed Dec. 24, 2015

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