Authored By: Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a. " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "
It continues to amaze me that after more than a dozen years practicing exclusively divorce and family law that there are parents who still pay their child support through their children.
Over the years I've come to understand that there are any number of reasons why this happens. Just a few are listed here:
1. Reliability - In some cases parents believe that it is more reliable to send it with the children when they are returned from their parenting time (formerly called "visitation"). The idea behind this is that the parent paying the child support has made sure the child made it home to the placement parent, therefore so has the payment and it has been paid timely.
2. Cost and/or Time Savings - In other instances, parents who pay the other parent directly simply may not want to purchase envelopes or stamps and don't want to take the time to write out the envelope information each time a payment is required.
3. Demand by the Payee Parent - There are some payee parents who insist that the child support payment be dropped off in the children's things when the child(ren) is/are returned.
4. Causing Intentional Hurt to the Payee Parent - The payor parent wants to emotionally or mentally hurt the payee parent by providing payment through the child. This sometimes happens in any number of ways. The payor parent might know that the payee parent is picky about the readability of the check so the payor might just scribble the check sloppily to annoy the parent receiving the check. The payor parent might write the check so that it is a penny or two short so that the payee parent is once again annoyed or gets angry about having to fight for a few cents to force the other parent to pay the full amount. The payor parent can simply leave the signature or the date off the check so that it appears to be an oversight when it could very well be intentional so that the payee parent can't get the money unless they fill in the date or forge the signature. Either one of these is not lawful and forgery of a signature is a crime in Rhode Island. Another way is for the payor parent to have a new girlfriend or boyfriend write out the check in their hand-writing so that the recipient of the check is taunted because this person should have nothing to do with the payment of the child support but is done simply to emotionally try to hurt the recipient parent.
5. Avoidance of the Other Parent - The payor parent may use the child so that he or she can avoid contact or communication with the other parent. Therefore, there is no personal delivery by him or her. No wasting his or her time to give the payee parent any satisfaction that it is even worth the time filling out an envelope or paying the cost of a stamp. So the child becomes the delivery person.
These are just a few of the ways that child support payments are transferred using a child which adds a very personal delivery aspect unfortunately the personal delivery comes from the child.
A good, caring parent will ALWAYS arrange for another method of delivery for child support that does not involve any child or children in any way.
If you are using a child to deliver a child support payment, there is a very important primary reason in reconsidering doing so.
When a child support payment is delivered by a child or through a child, the emotions and response of the parent receiving the child support cannot always be predicted and can vary. However, in many cases the response is not usually a positive one. Association with the Child - When a parent has a child deliver child support, the response of the parent receiving the child support is frequently a negative one. Sometimes the response can be intense anger, vindictiveness or other emotions. This may include many forms of venting such as yelling, screaming, grilling the child about the payment or other information, swearing, crying, throwing, slamming things or even destroying things. Some parents resort to more extreme forms of violence either against themselves or against the child(ren).
Even if the upset parent doesn't intentionally direct their venting and/or violence against a child for the delivery of a child support payment the child(ren) often absorb the recipient parent's response to the delivery. Depending upon how the child interprets or absorbs the information from either parent, it is almost always in a negative manner.
Some children blame themselves for their parent's feelings or reactions. Other children feel rejected or become deeply depressed that even though they have done what they were asked they cannot seem to make one or both of their parent's happy. Still other children become confused and feel as though their whole world is falling apart because they interpret that their parental support system has collapsed. This often causes children to feel alone with nowhere and no one to turn to for help, support or someone they can trust to talk to.
In extreme cases, children can become extremely depressed and even suicidal if a proper support mechanism isn't realized in their lives so they know they are loved, feel that they have a personal sense of worth, and that they are appreciated by others, and are loved by others.
Our children are our future. They do not have the defense mechanisms that we learn as we become adults. If we damage them due to our own ignorance by using them as child support delivery tools then it is likely that we damage their children and their children's children. Children are as delicate as they are resilient. However, it is improper to justify yourself by blaming the other parent or simply expect the child(ren) to bounce back. Resiliency only works when parents are there to support it. If even one parent acts in a destructive nature, the likelihood is that you have damaged your child's psyche, self-worth, emotional stability and more.
Delivery of child support through a child is shirking your own responsibility onto the child. Fill out the envelope, pay for the stamp, drop off the payment personally, arrange payment through direct deposit if your bank allows.... but leave your child out of it. Be the adult you should be... don't risk a child bearing the angst directed at you as an adult.... no child deserves it. If you love your child, you'll undertake your own responsibility and protect your child(ren) from collateral damage.