Friday, March 2, 2012

How Long do I Have to Save My Child Support Receipts?

A lot of people wonder how long they need to save the proof they paid their child support.  Because California law states child support is due until paid in full, horrible as it sounds, I would suggest you keep your records indefinitely.  Yet, that suggestion can vary depending on how your support is paid.  For example, if all of your payments are made through the California State Disbursement Unit, and they send you monthly statements, when the children are nearing the age of emancipation and you do not owe back support, you should have statements that show you owe just for the current month and there are no arrearages (ie: payments past due).  However, if you are paying directly to the other parent, I would keep proof of each payment made (cancelled checks, cashiers check receipts, bank statements) and a log of payments due, how much paid, date paid and how paid.  Imagine twenty years in the future the other parent going to Court and stating you never made a payment and now they want you to pay it all again, plus interest.  Banks do not keep records for that long and it is unlikely you will have 20 year old bank statements and/or cancelled checks sitting in your garage.  Even employers who withheld support from your paychecks may no longer be in business or have the records you need.  Without being able to "prove" you made the payments, it is entirely possible the Court could rule in the other parent's favor and order you to make payments you might have already paid.  I would like to say these are extreme examples, but this happens entirely too often.

Similarly, NEVER make your support payments to the other parent in cash.  If the other parent asserts at some point you didn't make a payment, you will have no way to prove you did.  I am not entirely fond of Money Orders either (as they do not have a payee imprinted directly on the document) and contrary to popular opinion, it is not that easy to get proof they were cashed and by whom.  I have folks tell me "she only wants cash," "he will not accept a cashier's check," and "she doesn't have a bank account."   That is not your problem.  Your responsibility, if so ordered, is to make your support payments in full each month they are due.  It is no matter how you do it, just that you do it.  And, the best way to protect yourself is to maintain records of you meeting this obligation.

For more information regarding California Family Law contact Stone Law Group in Fresno at (559) 226-1910.

Image: Naypong /