Proof of Child Support Payments and Cash Payments In New York
In the state of New York, the New York Family court is responsible for everything to do with child support. This includes processing petitions, establishing new orders, and determining whether any modifications need to be made to a current order. In historic cases, the Supreme Court has been called upon to enforce, modify, and establish child support, especially in the cases of initial divorces or postjudgment divorces. Most of the child support payments made in the state are the responsibility of a non-custodial parent and are paid directly to the other involved party. They might also be paid through the use of the Support Collection Unit, or SCU.
After the court issues a child support order that requires the SCU to collect payments, it is the SCU’s responsibility to collect the payment and then distribute it to the other involved party or parties. If the paying parent lags in their payments, the SCU has the right to enforce the court order. After a parent applies for child support services, the order must be paid using the SCU, and the custodial party is not able to accept direct payments from the noncustodial party. They also may not make informal agreements to change the order; all changes must be approved officially through the court. If the noncustodial party wants to pay directly, they should ask for language to reflect this in the original order or request a subsequent modification to allow for direct payments.
After the issue of a child support order, the noncustodial party will be given an instructional guide for payments. This guide will have information about how to make payments and how much must be paid. If the parent works, sometimes notices will be mailed to their employer instructing them to remove the support payments from their salary and allowing their collection by the SCU on the parent’s behalf. In other cases, the payments might come from other income sources like a pension or unemployment payments. Payments will not start to be deducted from income checks until several weeks after the support order has been established.
If the paying party is self-employed, they can adhere to a payment schedule by making direct payments to the SCU by e-check, cashier’s check, or a money order. Support payments shouldn’t be made with cash because cash payments will not generate a traceable record proving that the support has been paid. This means that they will have no evidence if there is ever a dispute over whether child support payments have been paid in the full amount.
If the paying party still has a good relationship with the receiving party, the receiving party can have a letter notarized and sent to the SCU with a request that paying party receive credit for sums they’ve paid directly. That said, it’s better to let the SCU handle payments to remove the complexity of needing to notarize or send a letter. Sometimes the receiving party will forget or refuse to send the letter, so the SCU will think the paying party has fallen behind on their payments.
Even if you choose to pay directly rather than through the SCU, it’s still better to use non-cash forms of payment. Should you use cash for your direct payments, you should receive some kind of receipt for the transaction which indicates that the cash was intended as a child support payment. You’ll need this to prove that the payment was made should there ever be a dispute over payment history.
In the New York court case Ford v. Department of Social Services, a father had several child support enforcement motions taken against him. The amount of child support added up to $400,000 in obligations to his daughter. Said sum had built up over the span of twenty-four years. The father disputed this claim and asked to be credited for child support payments. However, the OCSE moved to dismiss the father’s petition.
The father told the Department of Social Services that he would provide proof of the payments that had not yet been credited. His submitted payment proof was a Findings of Fact. This documentation included a letter from the child’s mother asking for the father to receive a $5,000 credit, another letter asking for the father to receive an $800 credit, and testimony that $70,000 had been paid in the course of avoiding jail time and satisfying certain arrears.
The OSCE said that the $70,000 payment would not be credited. It had already credited the $5,000 due to a different notarized letter filed by the other parent. The father filed a petition against both the other parent and the OSCE, along with several other parties, to vacate the order for various child support payments and other arrears. He claimed the OSCE had made a miscalculation of his owed child support and that he had not been properly credited for his previous payments. The court dismissed this complaint.
The OSCE told the father that the father’s bank account would then be restrained and that the arrearage amount would be obtained through a tax refund offset. The father requested administrative review but failed to submit proof of a miscalculation in the child support payments. His petition was denied, so he began a new proceeding.
The court ruled that the Department of Social Services is authorized by a state statute to collect the tax refund of the petitioner in order to enforce the arrears that are still outstanding. This also triggered the denial of a passport for the father. The court also explained that without proof challenging the OCSE, it would not stop the OCSE from seizure of the tax refund.
Even if the father had received a credit for paying $70,000, the amount he still owed would be enough to seize the tax refund and deny his passport. Therefore, the father’s petition was denied, his tax refund was seized, and he was made to pay the remaining balance of child support.
We are New York lawyers who can help with the modification of child support arrangements.