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Should you keep copies of alimony payments?

If you are ordered to pay alimony following a divorce, it's a good idea to keep organized records showing your payments. One reason that you might want to keep records is so you can prove that you made timely, appropriate payments. Such evidence could become important if the other person decides to bring the matter to court again or claim that you didn't make your payments.

Another reason to keep detailed alimony payment records is because you are probably able to use those payments as a tax deduction on your federal income tax return. If the other person doesn't claim alimony income that matches what you claim as a deduction, though, the Internal Revenue Service might come calling. Having the right documentation to prove you made payments can save you a lot of hassle and possibly some extra tax burden.

If you pay alimony, keep a list of your payments somewhere. You can write these in a ledger or notebook or keep them in a spreadsheet or accounting software, but the data should include the date of the payment, the amount of the payment and the check number. You might also keep information about how you provided the payment – whether you gave it to the other person by hand or what address you sent the payment to.

If your bank provides cancelled checks, always keep your alimony checks. It's also a good idea to copy the checks before you send them. Make a note on the check regarding what month or months the payment covers. If you make alimony payments by cash, get a written, signed receipt from the recipient to prove you made the payments.

You might also make alimony payments by electronic bank transfer or Paypal. Always note in appropriate electronic fields what the payment is for so you can keep track of it. If you are being accused of not paying your alimony, consider reaching out to a family law attorney for information on how to prove you made payments or mitigate your exposure.

Source: FindLaw, "Alimony Guidelines: What Records to Keep Regarding Your Alimony," accessed Oct. 21, 2016

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