Ex-Wife Stopped Child Support Order Goes Back To Court

by Maria
(Lompoc, CA, USA)

My boyfriend has full physical and legal custody of his 14-year-old son. He gained full custody in 2009, after we found out that his ex-wife was beating him.

My boyfriend and his ex-wife divorced in 2004. At that time, the court awarded her sole physical and joint legal custody. DCSS (Dept of Child Support Services - in Santa Barbara California) put a wage assignment on his wages and he had to pay her $740/month in child support for their son. Custody was split with my boyfriend having their son from Friday evening at 5:00 pm to Sunday evening at 5:00 pm, and his ex-wife having him for the rest of the week.

In June 2004, my boyfriend noticed that his employer suddenly stopped garnishing his wages for child support. He contacted his ex-wife to find out why and she said that she stopped the order because she no longer wanted or needed his money. At the time, she had entered a relationship with another man and got pregnant by him.

In October 2004, my boyfriend received a copy of a document entitled "Judgment Regarding Parental Obligations". This document states, "The purpose of this action is to establish parentage and/or medical insurance." On the second page, it reads, "This is a RESERVED order for the reason stated below", and the reason stated below says, "Custodial parent does not want other child support enforcement services."

When my boyfriend got custody of his son in 2009, DCSS did an audit which found that he had overpaid his ex-wife by $3,830.84 during the time that she had custody of his son. She immediately filed a motion to dispute these findings, and stated that there had been a period of time when he did not pay child support to her but was supposed to.

This period lasted approximately 9 months, and started in June 2004 to February 2005. When we went to court, DCSS already had their minds made up that my boyfriend had neglected to pay child support to her, and had a new audit already prepared which stated he owed her over $14,000 in back child support, interest, etc. In a gesture of magnanimity, the ex-wife requested that any child support that she was required to pay him since he now had full legal and physical custody should be "offset against the arrearages owed to her".

Apparently DCSS thought this was a wonderful idea and now my boyfriend has this $14,000+ debt hanging over his head. His ex-wife (who works full-time for her brother) claims she only makes $10 an hour working as an "independent contractor" and cannot produce any W-2 forms, paystubs, anything like that. DCSS takes her word that this is how much she makes, and has assessed the amount of child support she should pay my boyfriend at $111/month. Seeing that they are charging 10% interest on the outstanding balance, that $14,000 is not getting reduced at all!!

Meanwhile she and her new husband are driving matching 2011 Nissan Altimas and their 8 year old son has a blackberry cellphone, every X-box and Nintendo DS game imaginable, his own laptop, computer and enough toys to fill a whole bedroom. When my boyfriend's son goes to their house for visitation, he is confined in a bedroom and told that he cannot watch tv with the "family" in the livingroom, or participate in any activities that they engage in together.

His ex-wife has not attended one soccer game in the 4 years that my boyfriend's son has been playing. She refused to attend his 6th grade graduation and has shown zero interest in any of his extracurricular activities. When money was tight a few months ago, my boyfriend asked for some help in buying some school supplies and she responded, "Just take it out of the money you owe me."

We called DCSS and asked how the withholdings order that was in place on his wages got stopped back in 2004. They claim there is no record of how it happened, but they "assume" the recipient must have stopped it, since that is the only way it could have been done.

Obviously, my boyfriend could not have called DCSS and said, 'Can you please stop withholding child support from my wages because I don't feel like paying it anymore?" The only one that would have the power to stop the order was his ex-wife. We asked if at any time she ever contacted them and said she was not receiving the child support that was due her and they said there was no record of it.

It seems very suspicious that the only time she complained about not getting child support for the 9 months that she did not receive it turned out to be AFTER she lost custody and AFTER the DCSS audit showed my boyfriend had overpaid her by almost $4,000! Keep in mind that the 9 month period that she did not receive child support began in 2004, and the first she notified DCSS that she was not receiving child support that was due her was in 2009.

I have tried to be as detailed as possible, but my final question is, "Can a parent who stops a child support withholding order for 9 months suddenly decide she wants that money after all and does the parent who was supposed to be paying it have to pay her back?"

Thanks for your help.

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