Even after the settlement order has been signed, child support issues can still rear their ugly heads. Otherwise loving parents can become embroiled in contentious, stressful, expensive disputes with regards to paying for been caring for shared children. A new app, developed by Sheri Atwood, the child of divorced parents, promises to help illuminate these types of posts agreement child support conflicts. The app, called SupportPay, won the $250,000 award offered by J.P. Morgan Chase and the Center for Financial Services Innovation’s Financial Solutions Lab as a method for helping low-income families manage their finances.
The app is intended to assist with helping to arrange and track miscellaneous payments involved in child rearing that are typically shared between divorced spouses, like extracurricular activity fees, run-of-the-mill medical expenses, and other occasional payments. While custody orders often mandate payments for educational expenses, major bills, and other obvious expenditures, courts have been relatively unable to help when it comes to day-to-day incidentals, which often require immediate action on the part of one or both parents.
The app essentially embodies a neutral, third-party facilitator for child support payments. Parents can request child support payment or reimbursement for expenses, track and document payments, and even tender payment to one another through the app’s interface. The app is free, though in July developers released a subscription-based app parents can use instead with additional features available for those willing to pay. The optional upgrade permits parents who purchase premium memberships to download more detailed payment histories and utilize other advanced features at a cost of $9.99 per month.
Aside from serving an immediate purpose in clarifying which parent owes the other for the child’s volleyball signup fee or flu shot, the app also provides a much-needed legal benefit. The app records and keeps proof of payment for payers and proof of expenses for payees. This evidence is often difficult for parents to meticulously keep but is essential for sorting out custodial or child support disputes through court adjudication if or when it becomes necessary.
Although reports indicate that initially, parents were hesitant or too angry with one another to agree to sign on to the app, use has grown immensely as attorneys and judges have come to favor it. In fact, courts in over 25 counties in California now mandate its use, with others lobbying to require it as well. In Illinois, the app can serve as an addition to existing tools to help calculate child support payments and expenses.
Of course, no app can completely remove the stress and uncertainty from child support arrangements. And while SupportPay may be an excellent tool for working through day-to-day incidentals, a court-signed agreement is still necessary to assign parents to pay for major or planned expenses like tuition, insurance, and healthcare. If you are involved in a child support or custody dispute, or believe that you may be in the future, consider contacting skilled Chicago attorneys at the Arami Law Office for assistance.
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