Keeping a Child Support Journal for Custodial Parents
Child support is ordered for the family courts so that the non-custodial parent will provide financially for his or her child. Keeping track of those payments is essential for making sure they are made regularly and on time. Most states offer a way of keeping track of child support payments through a secure website. If not, it’s up to the custodial parent to keep track of these payments with a child support journal.
What Is a Child Support Journal?
A child support journal may be an online financial tracker, a hand written journal, or a computer file journal that you keep yourself. The journal is aimed at keeping track of payments and any other important information you may deem important. Keeping the journal both in print and on your computer is a good idea. If your computer crashes then you have a print copy. Computer journals can be sent by email to the appropriate agencies to make claims about missing, late or partial payments. Print copies can be faxed to the appropriate agencies and presented in court should the need arise.
Information to Record in Your Child Support Journal and Other Records
The aim is to keep track of:
- when you received a payment,
- how much the payment was for,
- expenses incurred and/or how the money was spent,
- employment information for the custodial and non-custodial parent,
- copies of the divorce decree, the custody order, and the child support order,
- if the payment was late and why (if you know),
- if a partial payment or no payment was received and why (if you know),
- if the support payment check bounced,
- any messages from the non-custodial parent, especially those threatening to keep the kids, threatening harm to you, or threatening to withhold child support payments,
- and any other problems you may have.
Expenditures include: medical expenses, daycare, school supplies, school and sports uniforms, sports team fees, and anything else essential to the child’s care. All records should be kept for a minimum of 7 years after the 18th birthday of the child(ren) involved.
Physical Copies Vs Electronic Copies
Keep all records in a computer and/or thumb drive file as well as copies in a physical file folder. In the physical folder, keep photocopies of all checks sent, print copies of your Child support journal, receipts for expenditures for the child(ren) to illustrate how the child support payments were spent, copies of all communications with the non-custodial parent (print copies of emails, letters, and text messages, and CD recordings of all voicemails and telephone answering machine messages).
For computer and thumb drive files, scan in any checks and letters, save all text messages and emails, and record voicemails and answering machine messages to your computer. Then burn a CD later.
If you file the information on an account with the State, keep a copy of everything you record. For your own records. The importance of keeping your own back up files cannot be over-emphasized. Bad things happen to good computers – even the State’s computers.
Why Keep A Journal?
There are many good reasons for keeping a child support journal.
- 1. You can compare your records with the totals and figures kept by the Child Support Enforcement office.
- 2. You have an accurate record of where the money is going for your own records.
- 3. You have a complete record to take to court – should the need arise – for purposes of asking for higher support payments or for when you need to show a history of late, partial, and missed payments, or checks that bounced.
- 4. You have accurate records to show to the Child Support Enforcement offices in both states – for those cases with interstate child support.
- 5. The names, dates, and employee numbers of every Child Support Enforcement official you speak to, the reason for contacting Child Support Enforcement, and the outcome of the phone call or face-to-face meeting.
- 6. You have copies of all text messages, emails, letters, answering machine messages (on CD), and voicemail messages (on CD), especially any messages threatening to withhold child support, threatening to harm you, threatening to keep kids away from you, etc.
- 7. You have proof of the divorce, custody, and child support orders to back any claims you make.
- 8. You can update employment information for both parents with the Child Support Enforcement offices.
State Child Support Website
If your state has an account set up for you online to help keep track of payments. Make sure you keep track of your sign in information. Once you access your account, print out any records you need for your personal files. Update any information that may have changed, that may not appear in your new account yet (social security number, birth dates), and add any information about your case that may not be in your Child Support Enforcement file.
Keep your records and journals straight. Keep them neatly organized. You are not the only person who may need to read these records. The court and your lawyer need to be see clearly what’s going on in your case, so problems can be solved as quickly and easily as possible.
Walker, Maya. eHow. How to Keep Track of Child Support Payments.
Custody and Visitation Tracker. Child Support / Financial Tracker.