A story out of California made national headlines recently when a single mother won $150,000 in overdue child support for her 52-year-old daughter.
As reported by CNN, Toni Anderson, a San Diego, California woman, was initially granted child support for a divorce that took place in the early 1970s. When she got a divorce in 1971, Ms. Anderson was a single mother of a three-year-old daughter. At the time, she won monthly child support payments of $210, which would eventually fall to $160. However, her former husband never actually made any of the payments. Now, nearly fifty years later, Ms. Anderson won $150,000 in back child support. The award includes $30,000 for the original amount that was not paid and approximately $120,000 in interest.
This unusual case is possible by the fact that Ms. Anderson was from the state of California.
Unlike the majority of U.S. states, California has no statute of limitations for child support. Under California law, a custodial parent can take action to enforce a child support order indefinitely. There is no state-mandated deadline. While child support orders typically have a longer statute of limitations than most other legal claims, California is somewhat unusual in having no deadline to take action.
“In New York, non-custodial parents have an obligation to provide child support to their children. If child support payments are not made, the receiving parent has a number of different enforcement options available. However, under New York state law, there is a strict 20-year statute of limitations. If you do not take action to enforce a child support order within 20 years, you will generally lose your right to do so.”
One of the things that made this case from California so remarkable is that Ms. Anderson had not had any contact with her former husband in almost five decades.
When she found out that the state has no statute of limitations, she decided to track him down and attempt to take action. For his part, her former husband stated that he was happy to pay the judgement and that he wished Ms. Anderson nothing but the best going forward.