Can Child Support Arrears Be Forgiven In California

by Jane Carlisle
(Torrance, CA USA)

My divorce was final in 1992. It was a very nasty time in my life. I was a stay at home mom with 3 boys (2 with my ex) when he cheated. He stopped paying the mortgage and I was left with no where to live. Our boys went to live with him temporarily until I was able to get a job and an apartment. He moved in the the woman that he was cheating with. Needless to say, he got an attorney and I did not. He got physical custody and the courts set support at $200 a month. He did not want the money and never enforced the support and neither did the courts. He past away unexpectedly in 1998. They boys were still living with him and his wife went to court and got guardianship, which I tried to fight unsuccessfully.

The child support was brought up but she had told the courts that she did not want my money and was going to put all of the boys' SSI in an account for college. Not 1 year later, she disappeared and we did not know where she or my boys were for almost 5 years. In 2005 my oldest son found them on My Space and we started building our relationship again.

Their step mother had promised my oldest son that she would not go after the current or back support but 3 months later she contacted me demanding either $20,000 or she was going to go to Child Support. I did not have the money so she went to CS and they started a wage garnishment for current and back support. She was also getting family SSI for my boys. When my middle child graduated from high school (he turned 18 the Nov before he graduated and I wanted him to finish HS) he moved out of her house and into mine.

He had found out that she had not put any SSI money away, even the Life Insurance money from his father. She had spent everything. She was very angry about that, stopped talking to him, quit her job and filed a motion to review and increase my current support for my youngest who was still living in her house. They increased it to $1,000 per month and I was also paying on the arrears every month. Needless to say, I have struggled.

When my youngest graduated, of course the child support stopped but not the arrears. She went back to get that increased to what the current support had been set at but I filed a motion to have it decreased. She agreed to set it at $500 per month. My problem is that I have now lost my job and am on unemployment.

My middle child is still at home with me, having just graduated from college and my youngest went in to the Marines 3 months after he graduated. I am now paying for her to live. She still is not working and it is so frustrating knowing that they are taking 25% of my weekly unemployment to give to her and she is spending $2,000 on a stent for her dog.

I just don't understand why I am giving her money. My ex did not want the money. She was getting $1700 per month from SSI for almost 10 years. She lied in court and she lied to my boys. I just can't see paying this woman for the rest of my life. And I can't afford it while I am on unemployment. Why do my son and I have to move in with family just so I can give her money that truly is not hers. It is my boys'. If they were still living with her it would be a different story but they aren't. She is taking from them still.

Please tell me if there is anything that I can do.

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