Keep an Indisputable Record of Maintenance and Child Support Payments
In the event that you become responsible to pay child support and/or spousal maintenance, it is essential that you keep a detailed record of each payment made. If you are ordered to pay child support, it is likely to be for a period of several years. The duration for which you may be ordered to pay spousal maintenance varies depending on the parties’ situation.
Often times, the Court will order your payments to be made to the Family Support Registry (FSR). The FSR then distributes the payment to the obligor. The FSR keeps track of the date your payment was made and the amount of the payment. However, it is not always clear as to whether your payment was for child support or spousal maintenance. Missing just a few payments can cause you severe frustration several years down the line.
For instance, assume you and your spouse or significant other have a child together. Further, assume that soon after your child is born, your relationship becomes tumultuous, and the two of you decide to separate. Depending on several factors used to calculate child support, it likely that one party will be required to pay the other a child support payment each month. Depending on the amount to be paid, you may even pay twice per month. As child support payments are likely to be required until that child becomes emancipated, you may be paying once or twice monthly for the next nineteen years. To put this into perspective, if you are required to pay child support for 19 years, one payment each month, that is 228 payments that will be made and 456 payments should you be Ordered to pay twice per month!
The sheer number of payments is one reason why it is imperative that both the Obligor and Obligee keep a record of each payment made, including, but not limited to: the date the payment was made; a copy of the form of payment, such as a check, wire transfer, or money order; the address the payment was sent to if mailed; the date the payment was cashed, if traceable; and whether that specific payment was for child support or spousal maintenance. Keeping track of what the payment was for is essential, due to the high interest rate imposed for missed child support and spousal maintenance payments. While both are high, child support is much higher, currently 12%, and is compounded monthly. C.R.S. § 14-14-106 (2008). Interest applied to unpaid spousal maintenance is 8%, compounded annually. C.R.S. § 5-12-101 (2008).
Not only is it important to meet your obligations if you are the Obligor, but just imagine the conundrum you may face should the Obligee seek to recover any alleged missed payments if you do not have sufficient records to prove the payments were made. Under Colorado law, if any court ordered installment of child support or maintenance is due and unpaid, it automatically becomes a final money judgment. C.R.S. § 14-10-122(1)(c) 2008. Consequently, the applicable statute of limitations is twenty years from the entry of such a judgment. C.R.S. § 13-52-102(2)(a) (2008). Should you fail to make payments, you may be faced with an action whereby you need to produce payment records from the last two decades.
Due to the various durations of time which the child support and/or spousal payments may be required, if you have not maintained a record of your payments, it may be difficult to defend yourself. Never rely on your bank or financial institution to safeguard these records for you, as the method of payment used ten years ago may now be obsolete due to constantly changing technology.
Regardless of whether you are responsible to pay child support, maintenance, or both, missing just a few payments may cost you more than you bargained for, including the time required to trace your payment history. The needless expense associated with re-creating your payment history is entirely avoidable, so be sure you maintain an accurate, detailed record of each payment made.
Fees and Costs