By Sara Pitcher
In some states, child support is often paid directly to a state agency rather than the child’s other parent. Divorced dads usually have many questions about this arrangement:
- Where is my child support money going?
- How is the money getting to my child?
- Do I need to take any actions to set up payments through this agency?
- What is the purpose of paying through the agency?
To understand the process, let’s examine how one state handles child support payments through a state agency. Procedures likely vary by jurisdiction, but in general, here’s what to expect.
Why Pay Child Support Through A State Agency
Where I practice, the state has determined that a centralized agency was necessary to track child support payments based on frequent cases involving disputes between parents over what amount was paid, the purpose of the funds exchanged, and whether there was a child support arrearage.
Having a centralized agency keep track of the payments made allows the court to have access to an accurate record of the amount of money paid. This also eliminates situations where payments were made directly to a former spouse and the former spouse claimed the payments were a gift, loan, spousal maintenance, for the payment of joint marital bills, etc. and were not for the purpose of child support.
While it seems implausible that an estranged husband would give monetary gifts to his spouse rather than paying child support, these claims were frequently made and with little basis for proving otherwise, many men found themselves with a large arrearage balance as a result of these claims.
In order to combat this and allow courts, parents, and the child support division of the prosecutor’s office to have access to up to date payment activity on child support accounts, Indiana created and implemented the Indiana State Central Collections Unit.
This also allows the state to track arrearages and to move forward with collections on them in the form of tax return interceptions and initiating court action against those with large arrearage balances.
Child Support Payment Procedure
In Indiana, where I practice, the courts often require that child support be paid through the Indiana State Central Collections Unit (INSCCU). In order to set up an account with this agency, a child support account information sheet must be filed with the local clerk’s office.
Once the clerk sets up the account, they will provide you with an ISETS number. This is a number different that your cause number or case number with the court. The ISETS number is your child support account number and must be referenced with your child support payments.
In addition to making payment through the INSCCU, Indiana is now often requiring that child support payments be made via income withholding order, if possible.
This allows the employer to automatically deduct the employee’s child support payment from the employee’s pay before the employee receives his pay. The employee then receives the remainder of his pay in his paycheck in the manner he normally would.
Once you have a child support account set up through the INSCCU, then, if the court has ordered that your child support should be paid through Income Withholding Order, an Income Withholding Order form must be completed and filed with the local county clerk.
Once the judge approves the Income Withholding Order, a copy is sent to the employer so that the child support payments are automatically withheld and submitted to the INSCCU.
It is important for parents who pay child support to note that until the payments are withheld from your paycheck, you are still responsible for paying the child support through the local clerk’s office or by mailing the payment to the INSCCU.
If your child support is not paid through Income Withholding Order, you must make your payment through the local clerk’s office or through the INSCCU directly. The INSCCU accepts personal checks, money orders, and cashier’s checks. If you are mailing your payment in through the INSCCU, you should be sure to include your name, telephone number, last four digits of your social security number, address, your ISETS case number, your court case number, payment amount, and the custodial parent’s name.
The INSCCU has a remittance coupon that you can download from their website to ensure all of the necessary information is enclosed with payment. You should check with your local clerk’s office to determine what methods of payment they will accept.
Once the payment is submitted to the INSCCU, they will keep track of all payments received and calculate any arrearage balance for past due child support which may exist. The payments are then sent to the child’s other payment via the method that they select. This may be sent to them in the form of a check or directly deposited into their bank account.
If you need assistance in setting up a child support account or an Income Withholding order, you should contact a child support attorney.