For parents and children in the child support system, nothing is quite as important as ensuring payments are delivered on time and with regularity. A missed payment may create an undue financial burden on custodial parents and their children. Delays can similarly cause unwanted strain on court professionals; the time and energy they spend tracking down payments could be better used serving citizens. What are parents, children, and clerks to do?
What are the drawbacks of the traditional system?
The traditional methods of collecting court-ordered child support payments rely on factors that are too often unreliable. These include payments delivered in-person or by mail in the form of cash, check, money order, or bank draft. The risk of a late or even missed payment increases when courts and citizens are restricted to these methods, which may, in turn, cause challenges for all parties involved.
The traditional system also requires extensive resources from the court; the cost of paper checks, supporting documents, and postage can add up quickly. In addition, the court’s reliance on human clerks to manually process each payment increases the risk of data entry errors, which cause even more delays. The issue is that regular child support payments are expected within a system that cannot guarantee regularity. The question we are left with is, “How can providers ensure that regularity?”
How can a digital payment solution help?
Modern technology means modern solutions in the form of digital child support payments. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the precedent for digital payment options has been in place for some years. The challenge for courts lies in implementing this digital technology.
In many cases, digital payment options include direct deposits to a custodial parent’s bank account or payments deposited into a stored value card account. Some payment providers even allow citizens to use online services such as PayPal. With tools designed to make the process as efficient as possible, digital payment solutions offer benefits across the board at little to no extra cost to state governments.
- Recurring payments — This helps reduce the financial strain on families that may not be able to deliver cash payments on a timely basis. Thanks to options such as automatic recurring payments and guaranteed funds options, citizens can follow plans that suit their circumstances.
- Fewer delays — When citizens can pay from anywhere, at any time, and in minutes, they have a greater incentive than ever to be on time. Similarly, digital payments help court professionals cut down on processing time, and custodial parents are guaranteed to receive their payments much faster.
- Lower burden on clerks — Court professionals can track payments more easily and face shorter lines. Likewise, they can spend less time manually logging payments, allowing them to focus their efforts on helping citizens face-to-face.
- Reduced financial impact — Although some citizens will prefer to pay in person or by mail, courts will pay less overall for paper checks, documents, postage, and processing.
Courts that offer a spread of digital payment options, including one-time, recurring, and partial payments help citizens make payments on time and without undue hardship. Having these options in place increases the likelihood that payments will be made on time and in full.
It pays to go digital
With the help of digital payment options for child support, citizens will have greater confidence in their court and can take comfort in knowing that their access to justice extends to child support services. Digital payments help reduce the financial strain on custodial parents and children, helping all parties achieve a new peace of mind.