Ok dopers, I just got off the phone with my mother. She wants to go after my father for back child support (he has never paid, to my knowledge, one red cent).
Father left when I was too young to even remember him. The young young age of somewhere between ½ years old and 1½ years old. He lived on the streets for some time, living with friends and being generally jobless. Then he basically disappeared.
My mother then raised me for the next 16 or so years of my life. During that time (she tells me) she had tried to look for him and failed, then eventually gave up.
When I was just about to turn 18 she asked me if i wanted to go after him for all the back child support he owed. It certainly would have helped me for college, she could have some to pay down debt she had accumulated during the single mom years, and things would have been nicer off. She knew where he was, and knew he was doing OK. She basically left the decision up to me.
So I decided to talk to him—to meet my father for the first time and try and decide whether I wanted to tell my mom “Yes, let’s go get his money.”
I decided against that conclusion. He was doing ok for himself. He had a job—I think he actually owned his own business—he was remarried and he had a daughter. The daughter has MS, and so did his wife; but still, they were doing ok for themselves.
I asked myself: what is the point of child support? I answered, to help the now single parent raise the child. My mother did that. She worked sometimes multiple jobs. We moved a bit. But, in the end, there I was, almost 18 and I was ok. She was ok; a little in debt, but ok. So, child was raised.
I then asked myself, if the conditions that child support was supposed to cover were met, what then would be the reason to go after him? I came to this answer: none.
I liked my father, in the few conversations I had with him. We had a lot in common, actually. We both liked computers, we both liked video games. Hell, I only talked to him four times but he was an OK for all that. Objectively I had no problem with him.
So, he was interested in the fact that I wrote poetry and some short stories. I packaged up an envelope with some peoms I thought were representative of who I was at the time, and what I had gone through, a story or two, and a single letter outlining the reason I pursued a conversation with him in the first place. I informed him that I didn’t feel that I should go after him for child support, and that my mother had left the decision in my hands. I informed him that though biologically he was my father, we had no ties throughout my life, and though I did find him to be a very nice man now I had no intentions of keeping in communication.
We never spoke again.
More years have passed. I am now 25½ and in some pretty serious debt, but working through it. I have a good job now, I like the area I live in. My mother is pretty much out of debt now and attending college to get the art degree she had always wanted. We are still doing ok; could be better, but there you have it.
In my mind, I told her, I still have a hard time seeing that I she should pursue him for back child support. She feels that he owed it to us, and that doesn’t change over time. We could both use the money which may amount to about $20K. It would get me out of credit card debt and allow me to get back on track to having a social life of some kind and investing for my future (of which only $125 of my monthly salary goes now, and I can barely afford that—just started saving even that this month). She could graduate faster and get into the job market while she is still considered even a valuable member of the job market.
so she still feels that the condintions of child support have not been met, and in fact cannot be met until he actually pays up.
And he does, as far as anyone knows, have the money. He’d have to sell his house and get a cheaper one (ooo, 200K house to a 180K house, for example) but seemingly it would not seriously affect his way of life. It might even get a monkey off his back.
AFAIK there is no statute of limitations on child support.
We ended the conversation a little bit ago on the grounds that we would both think about it for another week and get back to each other. I wanted to bring it here.
[list=1][li]Is there any legal reason, from what little information I gave above, that we couldn’t get the money?Can someone present an argument for either my side or my mom’s side to help me get a better grasp on the situation?In the general case, if the child is raised, should the parent still hold an obligation for back child support?[/list=1][/li]
Thanks. Right now, let me be clare that I am extremely ambivalent. I do want the money, but remain unsure about the motivation to get the money. I am willing to accept either side should a clearer argument present itself.