Legal Question in Family Law in California

The, complex legal question isl do I still owe child support?

My former spouse filed for divorce; State of California – 1986.

I was ordered to pay child support for my daughter that year in the amount of approximately $204 per month.

I was financially unable to adhere to the court order at that time.

Approximately two (2) years later; in 1988 the custodial parent (my former spouse) petitioned the court to terminate my parental rights.

It was my understanding (back then) that the court granted the petition/motion that year, in 1988.

With the belief that I lost all parental rights I never paid any child support to my former spouse.

In 2017 (my former spouse) passed away; my daughter is now 37 years old.

Again, the (complex legal) question is: do I still owe back child support?

Asked on 3/28/19, 6:33 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

You leave open the question of whether parental rights ACTUALLY WERE terminated in 1988. You also omit your daughter’s age in 1986 but doing the math it would seem to have been four.

So with that said, here is what I can tell you.

IF your parental rights ACTUALLY WERE terminated you owe back child support at $204/month from when the support order was entered until parental rights were terminated, PLUS INTEREST at 10% per year from the date each payment was due, until paid. Child support is owed to the child, not the custodial parent, so your ex’s death doesn’t change it. And wven if it was owed to your ex, it would be a debt to her estate that her heirs could collect.

The really bad news is if the parental rights were NOT terminated. If so, every monthly payment is still owed with interest until she turned 18; that’s 14 years of back payments plus interest. The fact that you did not follow up to determine if the petition was granted or not doesn’t get you out of the support if it was not.

The only good news is that the courts have the power to make adjustments to the amount of interest owed in the interests of justice and fairness, but the judge has no power to reduce the basic payments owed.

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Answered on 3/28/19, 10:18 pm

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