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Frequently Asked Questions
Athena Collects is a mission-driven, technology-enabled organization that was created to help women collect their unpaid child support. We are not a government agency, a collection agency, or a law firm. Athena was founded by Simone Spence, a mom, who had a collection problem of her own and learned to navigate the system more than 20 years ago to collect her arrears. We exist to do the same for as many women as possible until we’ve made the $118B of unpaid child support in this country a thing of the past.
We start by gathering information about you, the payor, and your child support case. We all know that unless you know where the payor lives and where his assets are, your chances of collecting anything at all are slim. Once we’ve collected the information we need, we locate the payor and his assets. Then we generate the state-specific legal documents that you need to file with the court to place liens on and seize the assets that we have found.
Athena has been designed for the overwhelmed and overbusy mom, so once you are onboard, you do not need to do anything else until we provide documents for you to file. We believe in transparency, so you can log into your dashboard at any time to see where you are in the process. When you receive your documents from us, you will also receive clear step-by-step instructions. And we stay with you every step of the way – all the way through to collections.
Athena charges a flat fee of $100/month for services. This covers everything you’ll need from the start until you’ve collected. Because court processes can be long and there tend to be twists and turns in every case, we tell moms to expect a year of payments. That said, most of our moms begin to receive back child support within roughly five months of starting with Athena.
Yes. We have a 100% guarantee that if we can’t help you, we will refund any installment payments that you have made, minus nominal service fees that we’ve paid to get to wherever you are in the process.
No. Suspending or temporarily making your account inactive will close your account with us. If an unplanned event (e.g.,a job loss or medical emergency) makes you unable to make your monthly payments on time, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your specific circumstances.
We recommend setting up our simple autopay option in your Athena account so that you never miss a payment.
With our auto-pay feature, payments will be withdrawn from your bank account, debit card, or prepaid card automatically on a set date each month.
If you have opened an Athena account and you believe you will be unable to make consistent monthly payments on time, we recommend you close your account and try again when your financial circumstances improve. Once we start location proceedings and asset searching, we are “on the clock,” meaning that the information that we find is current and we will rely on that to help you collect what’s rightfully yours. Waiting means that we must start the process over again, because the payor could have relocated or his financial circumstances could have changed.
This can be easily updated in your dashboard. From your account, simply click on “Payment Option” to proceed.
Here’s what you should expect when you begin working with Athena:
- After you register, you will walk through our onboarding process, entering all necessary information on your case and the parties involved. Once you have provided what we need to get started, we begin the process of locating the payor and his assets, and generating the documents you will need to collect what you are rightfully owed.
- Within about 30 days, we will know whether we have a location “hit” on the payor. This means we will know if we have a current address that can be used, which is a requirement.
- If we have a hit, we can move onto the next step. This is entirely personalized, and will depend on the details of your case.
- We continue on this step by step path, navigating your case, until we get you what you are owed. The steps we take depend on the complexity of your case itself; that’s where our expertise helping moms collect on unpaid child support for the last 20 years comes in.
- We will keep you informed every step of the way. Some steps will take time either because they are complex, or because you are waiting for a court response. Other steps will be quicker.
*Note. Remember the most important part of your collection journey is to remain steadfast. We know this because we’ve been where you are today. You cannot “take a break” from the platform or you will have to start over, and every milestone you pass increases your chances of collecting. Remember, if we cannot hit a key milestone, we will let you know. For example, if we find the payor, it means you are closer to collecting. If we cannot find him, we let you know because it means we’re stuck..
We will also do our best to move you through the court system as quickly as possible, based on two decades of experience doing the same for others. Unfortunately, this can be a frustrating process that takes time. Each court system decides how many days it takes to process their paperwork, and the law dictates how long a respondent must respond to paperwork received. At times, there may be a bit of “back and forth,” and that requires even more patience on your end. Additionally, most courts are not automated, so there is also human error that could affect your case. Remain confident that you now have decades of experience on your side, and we know how to navigate these problems. Just keep that in mind and remain calm. Remind yourself that you are on the right path.
When you start to collect depends on the details of your case, how quickly we can find the payor, and the assets that belong to the payor. Based on our work with moms over the last 20+ years, you can expect to receive payment as soon as 5-6 months after beginning our process, but this is case-dependent and not a guarantee. For more complex cases involving several assets, it may take longer.
We notify you immediately. We know that you have probably been waiting for this for a long time, and we don’t keep you in the dark. Depending on the specifics of your case, we will then begin to generate documents for you, or we will immediately begin the next step — asset searching.
We notify you immediately. Document generation then begins so that liens can be placed on the assets we have found.
Sometimes we will not be able to find payors, or we might not be able to find any assets. In those cases, we will not be able to help you. If this happens, we will promptly refund any installment fees that you have paid, minus nominal transaction costs we are charged to provide this service to you. Our goal is for you to keep as much money in your pocket as possible to care for your family, so if we can’t help, we will let you know as soon as possible.
Athena is a mission-driven company founded by a mom who was once in your shoes and determined not to get scammed herself. Founder Simone Spence has published multiple books and has testified before Congress regarding child support, and has a team supported by TechStars Impact and multiple angel funders. Most importantly, Athena has already helped thousands of moms collect more than $15 million in back child support.
If you are owed unpaid child support, you have three options:
- Work with an attorney. Pay an upfront retainer, along with additional fees for private investigation.
- Work with your local child support enforcement agency.
- Work with a collection agency that will take 35%-55% of what they collect as their fee.
- Represent yourself by navigating the system on your own.
Athena is a new option – a self-guided solution that allows you to represent yourself, but supports you along the way with investigations, custom and state-specific forms generated for you, and more. It’s a different option because it’s the one that founder Simone Spence dreamed about when she was in your shoes. Let us help you collect what’s rightfully yours.
We know that all states offer child support collection services that are free for most women. But we also know that those services were not designed to help with all types of child support collection cases. In other words, they are designed for those who are willing and who acknowledge having the ability to pay. If this sounds like you and your case, we encourage you to explore these options first.
The cost of retaining an attorney is out of reach for many women waiting to collect their child support arrears, especially when the cost to hire a private investigator to locate the payor and his assets are added to the bill. Athena is not a substitute for an attorney — it’s a lower cost option that works.
There are countless private companies that provide child support collection services, but most are as predatory as the payday loan market, as they take between 34%-55% of all that they collect, and they take it off the top. We question the ethics of these businesses — we founded Athena because we knew there was another way.
Collecting your child support is a process that must be done through the court system. As with all court processes, it takes time — time to receive documents that you will send, time to process the documents received, and days in-between to ensure that all parties have had time to receive documents and to act on them if an action is needed. One example is when you must serve the other parent with a notice of demand to pay – a fruitless action because they ignore the notice more than 90% of the time, but it’s a necessary step, nonetheless. That action alone has a 30-day waiting period for the payor to respond before you can take the next step.
With child support enforcement cases, there are several other case complexities — such as when one of the parents has moved from the originating state. None of these stages can be moved along faster, despite the frustrating process. Add in locating the payor and the payor’s assets and the full process can take upwards of a year. We inform moms on our platform to expect a 12-month process, although most will begin to see some collections coming in well before that time. Collections usually begin after month 5 – after we have filed all initial forms (getting you set up) and we have found dad and his assets.
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