What Is Wrong With Paying Child Support by Cash?

Cash payments for support may leave you with no way to prove you made them.
Cash payments for support may leave you with no way to prove you made them. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Almost 25 percent of the child support cases handled by the California government involve a parent lying about the amount of money she received, according to Marsha Baucom, a family law attorney in Santa Ana. If you pay in cash, you might have no way of proving that you did so if a dispute arises between you and your child's other parent.

Court Involvement

Every state has a child support registry and collection unit, and their databases are available to each other for tracking support payments. Some states will not grant a divorce unless child support payments go through this registry. This benefits both the parent paying support and the parent receiving it because the government keeps comprehensive computer records tracking the payments. State child support units will automatically begin efforts to collect when a parent falls behind in his payments. If your court order requires you to pay through your government agency and you make a cash payment directly to your children’s other parent instead, the court system has no record of it. It appears as arrears on your file, just as though you didn’t make the payment. This can trigger a flag to begin collection efforts against you.

Potential for Fraud

If you pay your child’s other parent in cash and he says he didn’t receive it, you have the burden of proof to convince the court that he’s lying. If you frequently make cash payments, there’s nothing stopping him from taking you back to court and claiming that you didn’t pay at all. Not paying child support is a serious offense. Penalties vary from state to state, but can include revocation of your driver’s license and even jail time. At best, you might have to make your child support payments a second time if you can't document and prove the cash payments you made.

Record Keeping

Paying child support in cash not only limits your proof that you paid, but it might also make it difficult for you to remember when you paid and how much. As time goes by, even you might have a hard time recalling if you made a payment to your child’s other parent every single week or month unless you keep detailed records.


If you ever do pay in cash, get a signed receipt from your child’s other parent and keep it in a safe place. If your support order requires that you make your payments through your state agency, you can go to its office and pay cash there, in person, if you make sure to get a receipt. Don’t rely on your child’s other parent to report to your state collection unit that you did pay so they can adjust their records. Immediately take your signed receipt to the agency for their records. If you’re not paying through your state government, make your child support payments by check so your bank records will show the canceled checks.

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