Md. eliminates paper checks for child support payments

The state this month will begin sending all child support payments electronically, a move that the Maryland Department of Human Resources said Wednesday will save $1.4 million.

The Child Support Enforcement Administration says eliminating the paper check option in favor of direct deposit and a new Electronic Payment Issuance Card for custodial parents will be easier, faster and safer for families. The state will save on the cost of printing and mailing checks.

"Families shouldn't have to wait for a check to arrive by mail to receive child support payments we collect on their behalf," Maryland Department of Human Resources Secretary Ted Dallas said in a statement. The electronic payment system "enables us to better fulfill our obligation to Maryland children by providing a fast, convenient and secure method for receiving timely child support payments. Many families will also benefit by eliminating check cashing fees, giving them a little extra money each month to support their children."

The change in administering the payments comes at a time when the state is collecting record amounts in child support. The state disbursed $544.4 million in the last fiscal year, or $25.1 million more than the year before.

While the state has long offered the option of direct deposit, the Bank of America-issued Visa debit cards are new. A bank account is not required for the Electronic Payment Issuance Cards. Individuals will be able to withdraw cash from the cards via ATMs, bank tellers and credit unions that accept Visa, according to the state.

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