June 2010 - There are two ways that a child support Order can be paid: Through the Family Responsibility Office (FRO); or, by way of private payment by the payor to the recipient, the person who has the child(ren) living primarily with him/her. Primary residence is usually defined as having the child(ren) at least 60% of the time.
One advantage to having child support Orders deducted by FRO is that a history of payment of child support is maintained within that organization. What I am writing about here is a situation where child support monies are not flowed through FRO but, instead, are paid directly to the parent with whom the child(ren) reside(s) primarily.
A child support order lasts until it is changed, or until the object of the terms of the Order no longer exists (i.e., the child/ren no longer dependant). This means that the person who receives child support payments can make a claim against the payor for arrears in support at any time for as long as the child/ren is/are dependant, as per the terms of the Order.
There are cases (not at all rare) in which the payor of child support will voluntarily pay directly to the recipient. A serious problem can arise if the payor does not keep accurate and good quality records of the payments that have been made. The payor should retain all receipts or other proof showing that these payments were, in fact, made. It is always possible that the recipient might declare that payments were not made, and it is open to the named recipient to file the order for payment with FRO after many years and simply declare that there were no payments made and that arrears exist. If this happens, it is up to the payor to prove that the payments were made, which can be immensely difficult, especially if the claim made by the recipient for non-payment of support goes back more than seven years. In this situation, it will be impossible to recover bank records to prove that the payments were made as banks only retain information about accounts for seven years. Even if the claim for non-payment is within the seven years for which the bank holds records, it can be costly to the payor to have the bank reproduce those records.
This is a warning to payors of child support who make payments directly to the recipient parent with primary residence of the child(ren). Even if you get along well with that person, keep very good records of a quality that can be used to prove payment of child support as it is always possible that that recipient could declare some day that payments were never made. While this may be outlandish and fraudulent behaviour on the part of the recipient, it can, and does, happen.