So far, I’ve written reviews on two startups that are helping make lawyers’ lives easier. I’m switching my focus to the clients now and I have recruited the help of my friend and amazing family law attorney based in Chicago, Stephanie Greenberg of Greenberg & Sinkovits (http://www.gsillinoislaw.com/).
If you’re a family law attorney, which is an extremely difficult job, you know that one of the biggest challenges that a divorce client faces is child support: getting it and getting it on time.
Here are some of the common problems with receiving child support these days: (1) The employer does not withhold the correct amount which can cause tensions between the parents; (2) You have to go to court every time a child support payment is incorrect and dispute it before a judge; (3) the paying party thinks the payments are going to the other parent for their personal benefit rather than to the child.
Aside from these common problems, dealing with the emotional aspects of child support can be draining on both parents. When someone’s divorce is finalized, the last thing they usually want to do is maintain a relationship of any kind with the other party let alone talk about expenses and deal with enforcing any court order regarding child support payments.
When Sheri Atwood was going through her own divorce, she faced the same challenge and wanted to find a solution. To avoid these uncomfortable confrontations, she came up with a solution: SupportPay. SupportPay is a child support payment system and tool “designed and built to help parents save time and money so they can focus on what matters most, raising happy, healthy children.”
So how does SupportPay work. Stephanie and I took it for a ride.
I. Dashboard: The Dashboard has several components:
- To Do items: if there are any items past due (i.e. the payor has not paid certain expenses, or the payee needs to review certain disputed expenses), they will be laid out on your dashboard so you can tackle them as soon as you log in.
- Charts: Charts show your expenses month over month, and your child expenses year to date by category. Come to think of it, this would be useful for any parent if they want to track their childcare expenses.
- Monthly Stats: Your monthly stats show your overall picture of the month in terms of the money you owe, the money the paying parent owes, the number of disputes you’ve had, the total received and paid, and your total expenses. It’s a great way to see the big picture. You can also view past months to see how it has changed over time.
- Activities and E-mail History: You can keep track of your most recent activities as well, whether you created an expense, paid any bills, or sent any emails. Every activity is tracked to ensure transparency.
If you don’t want to see all the details laid out on the dashboard, simply minimize the tabs and focus on the parts that matter to you most using the little arrow in the right hand corner.
II. Transactions: Under the transactions tab, just like your online bank statements, you can view your transactions (whether you paid or were paid) and your account balance. The best part is, you can view the receipts that relate to each transaction, which child it was for, the merchant, the breakdown of the payments by parent, and a tab for each transaction that allows you to start an “action” such as attach a document, see the history, or add a note.
There’s even a table legend to explain what each little icon means.III. Documents: Under the Documents tab in the menu, you can upload any documents, receipts or proof of payment. You can upload images related to any payments, even pictures of the event taking place. You can upload pictures of your children playing at a party, a receipt, a copy of a ticket stub for an event you took them to, anything that you or the other parent consider relevant or that will provide evidence of the expense. The best part is, you can create your own folders. It’s up to you how you want to organize the documents, but you keep them all in one location and have the freedom to organize them in a way that’s most helpful to you and the other parent.
The folders show you the documents you uploaded, the date they were uploaded, the type of file it is, the merchant, category, and amount. If you do not want to share the documents with the other parent, you can simply click on the “Actions” tab next to each document and mark them as “Don’t Share.”
IV. Settings: Under the settings menu (the little wrench guy in the right hand corner), you can edit your own settings as the parent, or you can edit and upload information on your children, even upload documents related to your case and add any merchants. It makes it easy to keep track of all expenses, merchants, assign each expense to a particular merchant and child and keep track of your case as it progresses or add any past orders related to child support.
- Settings Portal:
V. The Payment Process: Lastly, SupportPay is integrated with PayPal and all payments and transactions occur through PayPal. This also creates additional transparency, and makes it easy to track all your payments and expenses.
In sum, SupportPay helps you to painlessly manage all child support related issues and serves as an innovative tool that can help families avoid any stress or conflict in the long run.