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Is it wise to use a credit card for child support?

You want to make those child support payments on time and in full. You really do. But then you realize you don't have enough money on hand one month. Should you use a credit card to make the payment?

Obviously, the situation is different for everyone. There are ramifications to not paying child support. Your wages could be garnished, for example. If you want to avoid legal action, putting the payment on your card does do that.

Additionally, this does make sure your child actually gets what he or she needs. This may not even be about money for you. You're just dedicated to doing what's best for your child, and making those payments helps.

However, running the payments onto your card is also dangerous. It may buy you a month, but you could end up paying a lot in interest if you then can't pay the card off -- and make the next child support payment -- the next month. You may just be digging yourself into a hole, and it could get costly.

The key is to ask yourself why you can't pay. Did you have a one-time expense -- like paying to fix your car -- and you know it won't be an issue going forward? Or are you actually unable to meet the requirements because your expenses are greater than your income, and is that likely to be a long-term issue? Credit cards may just make your overall debt load worse.

If that's the case, it's important to remember that you may have legal options you can use to get the payments lowered. This is sometimes done, for instance, when the loss of a job or a cutback in hours means your income is lower than it was when the order was first handed out. An attorney can provide you with information on child support modifications that you may be eligible for in some situations.

Source: Clearpoint, "Should You Pay Child Support with a Credit Card?," Louis DeNicola, accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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