If you are the noncustodial parent of a child in Texas and must pay a monthly amount of child support to your child's custodial parent, you may have questions regarding how payments can be sent. After all, the last thing you want to do is send payments that total over a thousand dollars apiece, only to find out that the money never made it to your child or was only partially received. Not only is your child suffering due to the lack of child support, but you run the risk of being hit with an enforcement case by the custodial parent for the failure to fully and timely pay child support.
Today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will detail those approved methods by the Attorney General of Texas (OAG) as acceptable ways to pay child support.
Walk-in and cash payments.
Suppose you are a person that prefers to utilize cash-only methods of paying for groceries, household items, and other expenses in your life. In that case, you will probably approve of the following payment methods for child support.
First and foremost, there is a method called TouchPay, a self-service kiosk with machines located throughout Texas. Simple, step-by-step instructions appear on the screen to take your payment in a few minutes.
You will need to provide the ten-digit case number assigned to you by the OAG and the last name of the custodial parent. Debit cards and credit cards are also accepted methods of depositing child support funds, in addition to cash.
If sending in checks or money orders via the mail is not something you are interested in utilizing, then Fidelity Express offers a service as an alternative to those two methods. Payments using Fidelity Express are made at participating retail locations using cash. Again, you will need your ten-digit OAG cause number to make payments in this manner.
The tried and true MoneyGram approach is also an acceptable payment method for child support in Texas. Major retailers across the state like Walmart and CVS carry money gram capabilities that involve you sending cash via a wire transfer to the custodial parent. You will need your ten-digit OAG cause number. The OAG has a code (14681) that you will enter at the location to receive credit for issuing payment.
I am paying child support by phone or using a credit card online.
If the in-person/cash methods aren't what you had in mind for paying child support, you can also use MoneyGram's website to make a Visa or Mastercard payment (either debit or credit card methods are acceptable). There are fees associated with this payment method, and you will need your OAG cause number if you hadn't already figured that part out from having read the prior section of this blog post.
The other phone/online method that the OAG in Texas is a system called Smart e-Pay. Child support payments can be made online through the Smart Child Support website and by phone at 1-855-853-8286. Discover, MasterCard, and Visa credit or debit cards are accepted.
This payment method is relatively new and is designed to help create another, flexible method of paying your child support obligation. Be aware that a transaction fee applies to those payments made by credit card. Your credit card may also charge you a fee to utilize this service, so you should contact them before utilizing Smart.
Paying child support by Bank Draft
Smart e-Pay again comes in handy in this area as well. This internet-only option will debit your bank account through their secure system at no cost to you. You will not be charged extra to utilize this payment method, which is rare, as you have seen through reading this blog post.
Another excellent attribute of the e-Pay method is that it saves your payment information for quick utilization next month. You can establish a set payment method regularly, which allows for payments to be made automatically from your bank account whenever you would like. Based on what your particular orders mandate you do regarding the frequency of payments, this can save you time and hassle.
Suppose you wonder when electronic child support payments arrive at the OAG State Disbursement Unit (SDU). In that case, the answer is typically within seven business days of the date on which you initiated the debit from your bank account on the Smart e-Pay website. The benefit to you in this area is that you do not lose any time for the post office to deliver your check or cash payment as in other payment methods. E-pay is instantaneous insofar as the website receives the payment. From there, the money is sent to the SDU for dispersal.
The tried and true payment by mail
If these methods seem a little too out there for you, then you may be interested in the tried and true method of child support payment of paying your obligation by mail. Mail your payment by check or money order to the SDU in San Antonio. Their address is State Disbursement Unit (SDU), P.O. Box 659791, San Antonio, TX 78265-9791.
The following information will need to be included on your check or money order to ensure it is processed and sent out correctly and on time:
-Your ten-digit case number
-Your cause number (look at the top of your child support order for this information)
-Your full name
-The custodial parent's full name
A check should be made payable to the Office of the Attorney General.
Direct payment of child support to the custodial parent
I am asked if it is ever ok to pay your child's support obligation to your child's other parent. It certainly cuts down on the hassle it takes to look through a blog post like this one and decide the most suitable option for payment. You may also consider that your child will stand to benefit from your payment that much quicker. You may be asking what's the harm in paying child support in this manner.
Before you consider paying your child support obligation directly to the custodial parent, please consider that in doing so, you may be violating part of your child support order. Many orders specifically state that direct payment of child support does not include county on the official tally of payments made. You'll notice that it is not an accepted payment method that I outlined above.
Since the order was put in place, many noncustodial parents feel like they have been on better terms with the custodial parent. These better terms have allowed them the latitude to make informal, direct payments of child support. The concern is that as soon as something happens where that goodwill disappears, so will any credit you received for making timely and direct payments of child support. Don't be surprised if, after an argument, the custodial parent slaps you with an enforcement petition stating that you have not paid child support as ordered by the State of Texas.
Questions about the various methods of service available in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
Even if your child support case is done with, you may still have questions about planning for the future payments that need to be made. Our office would be honored if you chose to speak to us about these questions. We meet with potential clients six days a week for free of charge consultations. Please get in touch with us today to learn more about your situation and hear how our attorneys can best assist you with achieving your goals.