The Story & Idea

How It All Began: Sheri Atwood, CEO of SupportPay

Eight years ago I was married with a successful marketing career in the Silicon Valley. I was also pursuing my MBA in the evenings. Ten days after finishing my final class, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl!

Turning an idea into a reality

A few months after my daughter’s birth her father and I separated and subsequently divorced. Raising my daughter on my own wasn’t the scary part, though it wasn’t something I had dreamed of either, having been raised by a single mother. I am a child of divorce and one that was definitely full of conflict and disagreements. So, I decided my divorce would be different, for my sake but more importantly for the emotional sake of my daughter. My divorce was so amicable I did it myself (the paperwork, financial agreements, settlements, division of property, etc). We had been married for 6 years, and always agreed  if we didn’t stay together, we would do our best to ensure our daughter was put before our own needs, wants and emotions.

The Agreement

We agreed on custody and visitation and used the standard calculator to determine the amount of child support that would be paid. Other than a few hundred dollars in filing fees, a ton of paperwork and having to wait 6 months for the final judgement (a requirement in the State of California) I can say our divorce went very smoothly. I learned a long time ago that nothing good comes of remaining angry and the best thing I could do for myself and my daughter was to look forward, not backward, and to focus my energy on her and building a better life for us.

My daughter at 1 1/2 years old

Divorce isn’t the end, it’s the beginning!

What I didn’t realize at the time was the easiest part of this entire process was the divorce. Everyone thinks it’s the divorce that is the issue but honestly a divorce is one and done, children are forever! Not to mention the issues that lead to divorce- communication and money- do not get easier with your former partner. They get hard. Much harder!

Less Time, More Headaches!

I was now in a situation of juggling being a single parent and an executive. I had less time and we were no longer managing a single household and bank account. Managing and enforcing the child support agreement became difficult and time consuming. Lets face it no one likes to talk about money with someone they like. And they really don’t like to talk about money with someone who is now their ex. Perhaps if child support was simply one payment per month it wouldn’t be so hard. However in most, if not all child support agreements, parents are supposed to split basic household expenses plus incremental expenses such as healthcare, education or any other special needs for the children. These incremental, or additional, expenses became a communication and tracking nightmare. Between tracking on a spreadsheet, having to keep copies and send them to my ex as well as having to remind him to pay me, or a third party for any child related expense, I began to feel more like a bill collector than anything else and the entire process was time consuming, exhausting and fraught with error. I can’t tell you how many times I wished I never had to talk to my ex about money again.

Ittavi SupportPay is  born!

Everyone receives monthly utility or credit card bills with details on where the money was spent, so why couldn’t we do this with child support? I would get an automated process that did all the reminders and tracking for me and he would get the transparency and proof that the expenses were for my daughter. After researching, I was surprised to learn that there are over 298 Million parents globally who are raising their children in non-nuclear households (or as we call it, modern family households). In the United States there are 39 Million parents. Even though there is such a large population and a clear problem there was no solution to help parents manage the financials involved while raising children in multiple households. So I thought to myself: “I could make something that not only made my life better, but could really help all the parents out there in a similar situation.” Imagine how happy our children would be if they didn’t have to hear their parents arguing over money!

Modern family financial management

I left my corporate executive job and embarked upon a new challenge as founder and CEO of Ittavi (an acronym for the term “It Takes a Village”.)  My goal was to build a company that delivers products that helps families manage finances. The first type of family we are focusing on is where parents are raising children in multiple households. This amazing journey has given me the opportunity to meet and gather feedback from many single parents, lawyers and mediators – as well as community and business leaders. As I was embraced with such an incredible amount of support, it became clear to me that something like SupportPay was sorely needed to help divorced, separated and blended families.If you want to read more about why I decided to risk it all to start this company, read here.

You can spend your time on what matters most, raising happy, healthy children!

SupportPay is our first step on the journey of Ittavi becoming  your trusted friend and destination to help make modern family life easier. My vision is to continue to build Ittavi into a robust, one-stop resource that provides helpful solutions so we can change the lives of millions of parents and children worldwide.

Sheri Atwood
Founder & CEO,
Ittavi, Inc

How it Works

Watch the 5 minute video to the right to hear me talk about SupportPay, why I started it, the market and how the product works.

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