Advise clients not to make direct payments

DOR receives about 200 requests a month from noncustodial parents seeking credit for payments made directly to the custodial parent. The noncustodial parent must send credible documentation, such as copies, front and back, of cancelled checks or money order receipts, to the Child Support Enforcement Division, Department of Revenue, PO Box 7057, Boston, MA 02204, Attention: Direct Pay. DOR then sends copies of those checks or other documentation to the custodial parent to verify that the payments were received. Upon receipt of confirmation or the expiration of 10 days with no response from the custodial parent, DOR gives the noncustodial parent credit for those payments. This is a cumbersome and time-consuming process for all involved. Therefore, as noted above, advise clients not to make direct payments. If a noncustodial parent persists in making direct payments after notice to desist, DOR will decline to give credit for these payments, deeming them gifts to the children.

Payments before wage assignment goes into effect

It usually takes several weeks after issuance of the court order for the employer to begin deducting child support from the noncustodial parent's paycheck. Until then, in cases being enforced by DOR, advise your clients to make payments to DOR, and not to make or receive direct payments. Direct payments are guaranteed to cause arrears balance problems. If the noncustodial parent pays the custodial parent directly, DOR will have no record of the payments. Once an arrearage of more than $500 occurs, we will commence a variety of enforcement actions, ranging from intercepting tax refunds to suspending drivers' licenses. While we will give credit to noncustodial parents the first time this happens, it nonetheless takes several weeks for DOR to get evidence from the noncustodial parent that the payments were made, followed by confirmation from the custodial parent that the payments were received.

Brochures containing payment stubs and instructions are available at the courthouses throughout the Commonwealth. Instructions and payment stubs are also available online at www.mass.gov/cse (under Key Resources, click on "Make a Payment") and can be summarized as follows:

(1) Until the support payments are deducted by the employer, make the payments by check or money order payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Do not send cash.
(2) Print the payor's name and Social Security number on the check or money order to ensure proper credit and attach the completed payment identification stub to the check or money order. Be sure to print legibly on the payment stub.
(3) Mail payments to the Department of Revenue, PO Box 55144, Boston, MA 02205-5244.