DOR sends customers, who are not already enrolled in direct deposit, an Electronic Payment Application form requiring them to choose either direct deposit or the Massachusetts Debit Card as the method of receiving child support. We do not mail support payments by paper check unless a customer applies for, and is granted, an exemption (see below) when certain limited qualifications are met.
Electronic payments, whether by direct deposit or by the Massachusetts Debit Card, offer our customers a safer, more reliable means of receiving support payments than payments sent by mail. The benefits are many - electronic payments are available as soon as they are deposited into an account, and unlike checks they cannot get lost or stolen. In addition, there is an electronic audit trail to ensure that payments can always be located. While both programs are similar, DOR recommends direct deposit as the preferred choice for receiving child support.
Parents receiving support can use the Massachusetts Debit Card just as they would a conventional debit card, by accessing funds at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and by making purchases wherever MasterCard® is accepted. The card will offer the same convenience and security of direct deposit and, similarly, will be offered free of charge by DOR. However, there will be ATM and other card transaction fees associated with the Massachusetts Debit Card. These fees are detailed in the Electronic Payment Application form to help our customers make well-informed decisions between direct deposit and the Massachusetts Debit Card. Visit our Frequently Asked Questions section for more information about the Massachusetts Debit Card and associated fees.
We will send child support payments by mail only in very limited circumstances if you meet one of the qualifications below:
- A physical or other disability imposes a hardship for you in accessing an electronically transferred payment.
- A language or literacy barrier imposes a hardship for you in accessing an electronically transferred payment.
- You live and work more than 5 miles from an automated teller machine and more than 5 miles from a financial institution where the funds may be accessed.
- In any circumstance not noted above, DOR will consider an exemption on an individual basis and customers must claim an exemption using DOR's form. An exemption granted under any of the above conditions may be subject to periodic review by DOR.
Questions about an ACS State and Local Solutions Debit Card.
Child Support Card Frequently Asked Questions
You can choose to have your child support payments deposited directly into a bank account of your choice or to have your payments loaded into a debit card account which we call the Massachusetts Debit Card. Checks are no longer issued unless you qualify for an exemption.
With direct deposit, DOR sends an electronic message to your bank telling it to credit your checking or savings account with the exact amount of the child support payment we received from the other parent. You can then withdraw the
money, keep it in savings, or pay bills. With direct deposit your money is available sooner, generally by 2-3 business days, because you don't have to wait for the check to come in the mail or clear at the bank. Best of all, direct deposit is safe because your payments cannot get lost or stolen.
The Massachusetts Debit Card is a debit card. Child support payments are transferred electronically into your debit card account and you can access your money at any Automated Teller Machine (ATM). In addition, the card will carry the MasterCard® logo, allowing you to make purchases wherever Debit MasterCard® is accepted. Although the Massachusetts Debit Card carries the MasterCard® logo, it is not a credit card. You are using your own money from child support payments deposited on your behalf.
While DOR recommends direct deposit, the best choice for you depends on your situation; the choice is entirely up to you. Both direct deposit and the Massachusetts Debit Card provide many of the same benefits. There are no checks to get lost or stolen, the money is available to you as soon as it is deposited, and your payments will not be interrupted if you move. One important consideration is cost. DOR does not charge any fees for using the direct deposit service or the Massachusetts Debit Card. However, the Massachusetts Debit Card is offered by DOR in partnership with Bank of America and there may be ATM and other transaction fees charged by Bank of America when you use the card. Information on the fees will be provided to you if you select this option along with suggestions on how you can minimize the fees.
You must make a selection on the "Electronic Payment Application/Request for Change Form" that was sent to you and return it to the address or fax number on the form. Please note that if you would like direct deposit, the fastest way to sign up is online via our Case Manager. If you do not make a selection within 21 days from the date indicated on the "Electronic Payment Application/Request for Change Form," DOR will automatically issue you the Massachusetts Debit Card. Again, while either option is available, DOR recommends you consider the direct deposit option.
If there is a reason that prevents you from using direct deposit or a Massachusetts Debit Card, you must complete the appropriate exemption section on page 2 of the "Electronic Payment Application/Request for Change Form" and return it to us.
DOR offers direct deposit free of charge. Although most banks provide direct deposit services without charge, you should check with your bank about any fees it may charge.
The Massachusetts Debit Card is offered by DOR in partnership with Bank of America. While we have worked together to keep the costs associated with the debit card service as low as possible, certain ATM and other transaction fees will apply. The Massachusetts Debit Card fee schedule is as follows:
SERVICES WITH NO FEES