Compliance with child support orders are vital and important to both parents. But, proof of support is not always so clear after a divorce.
Compliance with support orders is not merely based on dollars and cents. How payments are made and for what purposes can be a vital legal issue.
Support must be paid to Louisiana's support enforcement agency and not to the parent entitled to support. However, a parent required to pay support may prove their compliance if the other parent requested payment to them or the payments directly benefited their child. The recipient parent may also waive any amounts that were legally overdue if direct payments were made.
It is important to determine how the payments were made. In one case, a Louisiana appeals court ruled that a husband was not entitled to credit payments made for the children's benefit where there was no evidence that these payments were made at the wife's request and for the children's direct benefit. This ruling was made even though the paying spouse sought an offset for payment of the children's tuition and for credit cards, department store bills and utilities on his wife's behalf.
The state Supreme Court ruled that parents' agreement to suspend child support payments is valid under certain circumstances. Their agreement had to be clear, the agreement may not interrupt the child's care or upbringing and it cannot harm the child. However, a spouse may not receive a credit or offset for payments made directly to their former spouse unless it was made at the spouse's request and for the child's direct benefit.
Parents should seek legal assistance when negotiating a child support order or seeking a modification. An attorney can help assure that these orders are fair and reasonable and enforceable.