Determining the appropriate amount of alimony and/or child support payments resolves half of those issues. The manner of payment must also be decided. As with all other divorce matters, the divorcing parties are free to agree on a reasonable manner of payment in lieu of having the court decide. Ultimately, the relationship between the parties and the payer spouse’s payment history will determine the outcome.
Where the parties get along and trust each other, the payer spouse will simply send support payments directly to the payee spouse. The payments can be mailed or hand-delivered provided they are made by the due date. The payer spouse should make payments by check or money order to establish a paper trail in case of disputes later on. A court will order support to be paid through the appropriate probation department when the payer spouse fails to make regular payments, is habitually late or where the parties do not agree on direct payment. The theory is that a probation department will keep accurate records of payments, will ensure that the payee spouse receives support regularly, and will promptly report non-payment(s) to the court for further action. Support paid through probation is not necessarily the best scenario, given that many departments are understaffed and/or staffed with incompetent personnel. This can work to the detriment of both the payer and the payee spouse.
Where the payer spouse is habitually late and/or fails to make support payments regularly, the court will order that spouse to make payments through probation by way of wage execution. In such cases, the payer spouse’s employer is served with an order directing withholding of support payments from the spouse’s check and remittance to probation for delivery to the payee spouse. The payer spouse should make every effort to avoid wage execution as it is often embarrassing and may result in denial of a pay increase. As with other payroll deductions, the withholding and forwarding of support payments is an additional cost of doing business to the employer. An employer may even face contempt-of court sanctions for non-compliance with a support order. Hence, wage execution orders are big headaches for employers.