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10 Common myths about child support

Mother and Founder of SupportPay, the 1st Child Support payment platform, 15 year tech veteran in Silicon Valley

When you arm yourself with the facts, you can make the best decisions for you and your family.

mother filing child support

Photo credit: Jodi Jacobson/iStock / 360/Getty Images

When it comes to child support payments, there are a lot of misconceptions and even confusion about the process. As long as you arm yourself with the facts, you can make the best decisions for you and your family. Here’s a look at the top 10 child support myths, and the actual facts you should know.

Myth: No one pays child support

Fact: Over $990 billion is exchanged between over 398 million people worldwide. In the U.S. alone, over $220 billion is exchanged every year between over 39 million people. This is in addition to the $31 billion collected by the federal government.

Myth: All child support goes through the government

Fact: State, federal and tribal agencies focus on providing services for parents who currently or previously received government assistance for their children. In fact, only 12 percent of the child support collected from government agencies are from parents who have never received assistance even though only 2 percent of the U.S. population has received these benefits. The remaining parents must figure out a way to manage support payments on their own.

Myth: Once your divorce is final, all your issues go away

Fact: In most cases, divorces that occur when children are involved do not make it easier for the parents, in fact, issues become much worse. It’s quite ironic that the main drivers of divorce are money and communication, yet when you are divorced with children you have to communicate about money.

Myth: Child support is finalized during my divorce

Fact: Modifications occur more frequently than original child support orders. Anytime income, time with the child or additional monetary requirements are needed for children, a child support modification can be made.

Myth: Child support is a simple once-a-month payment

Fact: Unfortunately, no. Child support requires ongoing communication, negotiation, agreement, and the exchange of money. Child support is the combination of a fixed base monthly payment, specific court-ordered incremental expenses, and subsequently negotiated incremental expenses. These include basic living expenses as well as any expenses related to medical, education or anything else deemed “necessary” for the child. These incremental expenses must be split and shared monthly between the parents with reimbursement to each parent and/or payments made directly to third parties. Adding to the conflict and complexity, the incremental expenses typically have extremely vague guidelines set by the court order.

Myth: There is a standard way to manage child support

Fact: Even though this is a painful, costly and time-consuming process for a large population, there has not been a standard system or process available to assist parents in managing child support payments. In fact, this is why Ittavi was formed. We want to address a big problem felt by a large population.

Myth: Getting a child support modification is easy

Fact: If parents are unable to come to an agreement on child support modification, they must go back to court in order to get a child support modification case heard. Each party is required to provide detailed information on previous or historical child support payments as well as fill out as many as 32 pages of documents. If a parent hasn’t been tracking what has or has not been paid, this can be a very time-consuming and painful process.

Myth: I don’t need to track my child support payments

Fact: If you are making any child support payments, it is critical that you have a detailed record of your payments. Even if your payments are being made through a state system, personal tracking is critical. In fact, child support systems are very prone to error, with many reports of mistakes in child support payment tracking. In fact, in the state of Ohio, a class action lawsuit was filed claiming that Ohio overcharged 114,000 non-custodial parents some $176 million.

Myth: I have to hire a lawyer and go to court for a child support order

Fact: Parents can, and are encouraged to, come to a parental agreement when it comes to child support payments. In fact, it is 85 percent faster and thousands of dollars cheaper if parents are able to agree on payment terms. When parents are making an agreement they should also address how payments will be made and managed.

Myth: She is getting re-married so my life is about to get much easier

Fact: You are one relationship away from an even bigger child support issue. Whether it's your new partner who believes you are paying too much or her new husband who thinks you aren’t paying enough, the more families become blended the bigger the issues. Having a system that enables parents to manage, track and communicate without having to talk directly to each other can be beneficial to all.

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