The biggest fear that many have when they negotiate a financial agreement in divorce is that they will not see the money promised to them. Whether it is child support or spousal maintenance, these payments are designed to provide for the care and support of dependents. Unfortunately, those fears are sometimes realized.
Such was the case of a woman who raised her daughter in Carlsbad, California. The woman married the father of her child in 1966, separated two years later and eventually divorced in the mid-70s. The payments to support their young daughter was determined to be $210 per month for the first two-and-a-half years. Payments were supposed to go down to $160 after that.
Unfortunately, the first check bounced, and the ex-husband soon after that disappeared to Canada with his girlfriend where they had two more children. The Carlsbad women and her daughter were on their own.
Google saves the day
The mother and daughter struggled but managed to make ends meet. Then last year the mother did a Google search and found her ex living a comfortable life in Oregon. The mother also found out there is no statute of limitations for child support in California, so she filed a motion to ask for unpaid child support.
Last month a judge granted her request. The total would have been $30,000, but adding 10 percent interest rate to the debt puts the total at $150,000. The man claims he is happy to pay the money and had previously hired a detective to find the mother and daughter so the money could be paid. To his credit, he also showed up at the courthouse and apologized. The payment starts with a large lump sum with other payments to follow monthly – with high-profile coverage by CNN and other national outlets, he’s likely to follow through this time.
An inspiration for others?
There are many out there whose ex-spouses are behind on their financial obligations. Colorado has a limit of 20 years for collecting child support payments. Each payment period is done separately, so if part of the payments obligation is under 20 years, that part is still collectible, accruing 12 percent per year in interest. Payments can even be gained through garnishment of wages or seizure of property.
As the Carlsbad woman proved, the interest involved in these cases can be much higher than the original amount. So those who are owed money are advised to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney. Normally clients do not wait 20 years, but attorneys can still help when that is the case.