You Can’t Run Away from Your Child Support
In a case recently reported from California, a woman received $150,000 in child support payments some 50 years after her separation from the child’s father. The woman had filed for child support when the child was two years old and she obtained a court order for the child’s father to support. The father then “disappeared” and never paid the court-ordered support. After more than 50 years, the woman found the father, financially successful and living in the state of Washington. When she did, she pursued the decades-old support obligation and, as noted, is now receiving $150,000 in child support.
As this mother noted, there is no statute of limitations on child support, and that is generally true throughout the country. Likewise, though there are certain situations in which child support obligations can be discharged, they are few, and it is extremely rare that any established child support obligation can be discharged or eliminated.
What makes this case somewhat different from many past cases is that the mother was successful in finding the father, and that he had not only the willingness, but the ability to pay the past due support. In this case, the father reportedly gladly accepted the responsibility to pay the amount due. He made a large lump-sum payment and then agreed to make continuing monthly payments to pay off the full amount due. While finding “missing” people has certainly become easier in the age of social media, the legal system’s adaptations are still evolving to this reality, so it remains to be seen how effectively petitioners who find a “missing” person will be able to use the courts to deal with persons less willing and able to accept responsibility than was the father in this case.
One additional and generally-applicable lesson from the California case is an issue that is frequently discussed by participants in the child support system, and that is about the use to which child supports payments are put by the recipient of the payments. As the California case under discussion makes perfectly clear, the recipient of child support payments cannot be held to account for use of the funds as going strictly for the benefit of the subject child or children. The mother in California presumably raised the child as best she could without the financial support of the father. Now, fifty years on, $150,000 in past due child support is being paid without requirement, representation, or inquiry as to whether/how the money will be used for benefit of the child or to off-set child rearing expenses.
Whether you are seeking child support, owed child support, or have questions about child support, it is best to talk with an attorney familiar with the laws and rules in your state and location. Click or Call 610-892-3877