By Sandra Burt
My clients often ask me why they have to pay through the clearinghouse. “Isn’t that an extra step between the money and the children?” As you may or may not know, all child support (and sometimes spousal maintenance) payments go through the Department of Economic Security Clearinghouse.
While divorcing parties can choose to have direct pay, most opt for the payment to be made through the clearinghouse for record keeping purposes. The clearinghouse will track all monies in and out for about $2.25 a month. The clearinghouse is not necessarily a policing service; they will not they do not “contact” a party if their payment is late, but they do provide their records if a party has to take the paying parent back to court for nonpayment.
Some parties express as concern about a “delay factor” with the clearinghouse, but there is really no delay. The clearinghouse pays the payee as soon as the money is received from the payor, usually by direct deposit into a bank account. In fact, the clearinghouse disperses funds so fast that they can and do sometimes get stuck with bounced checks on which the payor would obviously have to make good.
There will certainly be concerns whenever you are dealing with something as sensitive as money, and especially when you feel as if you’re handing control of that money over to a third party; but the Department of Economic Security Clearinghouse is a trustworthy middleman, and in many cases necessary. With no delay in the transfer of money and close to perfect recordkeeping, the clearing house can be an invaluable ally.