Unpaid Child Support: What You Can Do

2houses : web & mobile app for divorce with kids - unpaid child support

There are some coparenting situations where child support is a non-issue. If the parents have a true 50/50 custody time split and make roughly the same income, the courts may decide that there’s no need for a child support order. Similarily, some people choose to forego financial support as part of their divorce agreement. However, if you do count on child support as part of your monthly income, not receiving payments can create a real financial hardship.

Unless there’s a specific short-term issue that’s keeping your ex from making payments, you’ll likely need to get the professionals involve in collecting back support. Here’s what you need to know.

Get an Official Child Support Order

While this may seem obvious, it’s not unusual for coparents to have an informal child support arrangement. This is most common in situations where the divorce is in process, the parents were never married, or the divorce/dissolution was very amicable. While this situation works for some, it’s always best to have an official court order to fall back on, and if you’re dealing with unpaid child support, it’s a must before you can take any action for back payments.

Ensure the Child Support Order Is Accurate and Up to Date

Child support is handled on a state by state basis, and each state has its own guidelines for what factors go into the calculations and how child support is determined. In most cases, it will be dependent on the income (and possibly earning potential) or both parents and any other outstanding factors. These could be child care costs or something like above-average medical expenses for a child with a chronic condition. However, these factors may change as the child gets older or the parents get new jobs. If you or your coparent has experienced a significant change in financial circumstances, it’s important to have your child support order updated before seeking back payments — especially if the unpaid child support is due to a financial hardship.

Contact Your Local Child Support Enforcement Agency

The Child Support Enforcement Agency is responsible for ensuring that child support orders are executed. It should be your first contact if you stop receiving your payments. The case worker can let you know how long you have to go without a payment before enforcement action is taken (this is usually 1-3 months) and what the next steps are. Keep in mind, however, that the case worker will likely not be able to tell you why you’re not receiving payments or give you any personal information about your ex’s job or financial situation.

Keep Up Open and Positive Communication

It’s frustrating when you’re counting on money, and it doesn’t come in. But it’s important to keep the child support and the visitation and custody matters separate. If your ex stops paying support, that doesn’t mean you can withhold visitation or try other punitive measures to get them to pay. And really, this can just backfire even more and turn what was a peaceful coparenting arrangement into a war zone. Using the expense tracking and messaging tools on 2houses gives you an easy way to keep communication factual, professional and focused on the children.

Whether your ex just missed their first payment or you’re owed thousands in unpaid child support, it’s important to continue to abide by the current court order and go through the proper legal channels to seek back payments.

 

Co-Parenting: Managing School-Related Expenses

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School supplies in every store and cooler weather — depending on where you live — are sure signs of school starting, and it’s not long before the school buses are back on their routes and your child is back in school. While it’s a fun time of year full of new beginnings and new adventures, it can also be the most expensive for parents. Co-parenting about finances successfully takes grace, compassion, and respect, but it is possible to manage all of the school-related expenses with your ex peacefully.

Dividing School and Extracurricular Expenses

The very first part of managing school expenses is deciding what qualifies for that category. In some cases, your divorce decree and co-parenting agreement may do this for you. Sometimes these will list certain expenses — such as sports fees, school picture costs, and private school tuition — and the percentage that each parent is expected to pay. If this is the case, you’re in luck. Keeping things organized is as simple as informing the other parent about any shared expenses your incur and making your own payments promptly. Remember to keep receipts for any expenses you paid for so you can show proof of payment just in case any issues do occur later on.

However, for other parents, there’s no guidance in the court order and they’re left to their own agreements. In these cases, you may want to sit down with your co-parent and try to come to an agreement on who will pay what — which will be different for every situation. It may help to make a list of all anticipated expenses beforehand — bonus points if you can show what all had to be paid last school year — so that everyone is on the same page as far as expectations. Some parents might just split all expenses down the middle, while others may need to resort to a percentage system that takes into account disparity between incomes.
Whatever you decide, remember to put it in writing, so there’s no confusion later on. You might even want to consider having your agreement added to the court order, but keep in mind, that you may still need to revisit and amend things as your children get older and expenses and needs change.

Organizing Finances While Co-Parenting

Staying organized when you’re sharing expenses can be a challenge, but 2houses makes it easier. The in-app financial management system lets you keep track of your expenses and categorize each one so it’s always clear what money was spent for which expense. You can also send the other parent an invitation to reimburse you for their portion of the expense. Just use the mobile app to take a picture of the receipt and add it right then to the expense.

Use the wish list feature to let them know if there’s anything extra coming up your child needs, such as new shoes for cross-country or a class ring. At any time, you can export the expenses into a CSV or PDF file for easy accounting and documentation. Keeping everything in one place makes it easier for both parents to access the information at any point without having to call or message the other parent or try to get information through the child.
Whether you’re tracking large amounts like tuition payments or just need a way to know if you already paid your half, 2houses is designed to make it easier for co-parenting families to manage the financial side of the school year.

Get your wallet ready for the divorce

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If you believe divorce is in the foreseeable future, it’s a smart move to starting planning your finances and budget before divorce proceedings begin.  Transitioning to a life after divorce will be much easier and with less of an upheaval when you are financially prepared.  Meet with your planners, use online resources and create a divorce team so you can expertly navigate the details of a divorce.  This post will discuss some suggestions to help get you started and ensure a smoother journey on this difficult path.

Meet with a Financial Advisor and Estate Planner

Make a plan to meet with a financial advisor to review bank accounts, life insurance policies, retirement funds and other important financial papers. If these accounts are in your name, your advisor will ensure the right beneficiaries are listed and the funds invested in are appropriate for your situation. An Estate Planner can help you draw up a new Will, advise on obtaining new insurance quotes and advise on your tax situation. Deductibles and other taxation issues will arise, especially if children are involved.

Open your own financial accounts

If you don’t already have your own personal bank accounts or credit cards, open them now and start using them. It can be difficult to obtain credit after your divorce, especially if you are a stay-at-home mom or have put your career on hold. While still married, you can use your shared household income when applying for credit.

Review your credit report

Obtain your credit report and review it for anything that may have tarnished your credit history. If mistakes are present in the report, take steps to correct them now. Pay down any debts you have to improve your credit rating.

Become familiar with online resources

You can find online tools and mobile apps to manage expenses for both households after the divorce. These are great tools to capture expenses and income to keep the accounts balanced and are especially important when children are involved. If your divorce settlement will include monthly support payments, a feature in this online resource will send out friendly reminders that payment has not yet been received which can help to avoid conflicts in your post-divorce relationship with your spouse.

Conclusion

With a looming divorce you will experience many emotions from sadness to worry to peace of mind. Having familiarity with your current finances, especially if your spouse handled the money will bring you confidence and security about your future. Keep your team and resources close at hand so you too can look forward to a single, joyous and independent life.

Say Hi To Oscar: The New Kid That May Change Health Insurance

oscar the app for health insurance - 2houses

In five weeks from now, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates the opening of health insurance exchanges around the country. At that time New Yorkers will be introduced to an innovative way of thinking about health care: Oscar. Three friends, and technology entrepreneurs, teamed up to do something that has been inconceivable to date—create a start-up health insurance company to take on conventional health insurers on the NY exchange. Oscar co-founders, Josh Kushner, Kevin Nazemi and Mario Schlosser, plan to change the health insurance industry through technological interfaces, telemedicine and real transparency. Their goal is to redesign insurance to be geared toward the user experience, to make patients seek out their insurer before their doctor.

Americans do not usually think of health insurance as an intimate part of the care process. When sick, individuals do not call their insurance company for care or support. The health insurance industry is considered confusing, at best. The ACA however, presents an opportunity for the reformation of health insurance as we know it, not because of its disappearance, but by making it an integral part of receiving quality care. According to one co-founder, “We want consumers to feel like they have a doctor in the family.” That family doctor he speaks of is Oscar.

Oscar will have one plan in each of the ACAs metal-tiered categories, and additional plan options for the Bronze and Silver tiers. Although Oscar will have some of the familiar pillars of the health care industry like co-pays and deductibles for in-person visits, it introduces new elements like free telemedicine, free generic drugs and online price comparisons. Oscar health insurance will pioneer “a consumer experience, not a processor of claims,” explained Nazemi, with the goal of simply guiding individuals through the complex health system in an integrative and safe way.

Read more… by Nicole Fisher and Scott Liebman