Child Support & Crazy People
September 16, 2008 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Child Support Filter: He's supposed to be paying $207 a month, she has custody, he hasn't paid for almost two years, and served her with papers saying SHE owes HIM child support money.

My friend has a 4 year old, lives in Arizona, never married the father. They have a relatively strained past, she has custody but he has visitation on every other weekend. (It *might* be split custody, with her as the primary, though.) She isn't currently working (lives with her parents, has some income from wedding photography gigs, and is getting a job) and the courts ordered him to pay $207/mo. a few years back. He hasn't paid since November of 2006 now, but she's not in absolute DIRE need, since her parents help support.

He called last week with the realization that interest accrues, and kinda freaked out, wanting to "take care of this but I don't have any money." She explained that she wasn't pressuring him or going to turn him in, but that the interest and support were his responsibility, of course.

Now, he's served her with papers stating that she owes him child support moving forward. He lives in Wyoming and is a full-time student there with no job, so he isn't even taking his visitation presently. (His mom sees the child every other weekend, because my friend wants her to have that relationship and is nice about it.) He just got out of rehab for drug abuse and has been clean for about a month. He has no income, however, either. (Though his mom was helping pay child support up through when he stopped.)

I know this probably isn't enough information to go off of, and that you are not my lawyer, but I'm just wondering exactly how far out of left field is his attempt to try to get HER to pay child support. The child lives with her, and she supports her entirely. He filled out the form from the state's superior court site in a bizarre manner, but if there is an existing court order for him to pay $207/mo., what, if any mechanism is there for HER to be paying him when she's the custodial parent and he in no way supports or sees her?

None, right? (Again, just looking for a barometer on the crazy here.)
posted by disillusioned to Human Relations (16 answers total)
It's completely out of left field. Child support is for the support of the child. It is determined by the court.

I'm wondering if he's either gone off the rails or is taking "legal" advice from some shady fathers' rights activists. Is the phrase "sovereign citizen" used anywhere in this paperwork? I'm not kidding--the tax resisters' fake-legal-advice network seems to have spread to the child support resisters of late.

If I were her, I'd contact his mother and find out WTF.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:01 PM on September 16, 2008

He just got out of rehab for drug abuse and has been clean for about a month.

I think this says it all, really. The guy can print out whatever he wants from a website, but until it hits court it doesn't mean a thing. I think she should just laugh and toss it out, and then go after this guy for real, since he's only coming after her to distract her from going after him.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:03 PM on September 16, 2008

Right, this was my contention: she's the one paying for the child's upbringing right now, you don't get money just because you have a child, for the hell of it. Further, there wouldn't be reciprocal child support, because that just wouldn't make sense.

This guy clearly is a complete idiot; he's proven that any number of ways, but it's impressive nonetheless. (He told her "well, I completed the form, but I don't think you're going to like the results"; initially he had her earning $14,000 a month, because he can't read fields/determine minimum wage per MONTH is not the same as per YEAR, which she's not earning presently anyway. Honestly, that was the first sign for me, but I just needed to double check for my own sanity that there's no mechanism by which she would EVER be paying him while the child lives with HER.)
posted by disillusioned at 4:10 PM on September 16, 2008

Call whatever passes for legal Aid. She should talk to a lawyer.
posted by theora55 at 4:12 PM on September 16, 2008

initially he had her earning $14,000 a month, because he can't read fields/determine minimum wage per MONTH is not the same as per YEAR, which she's not earning presently anyway.

Geez! Are you sure the guy's still clean? Cause this is total junky behavior.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:31 PM on September 16, 2008

just laugh and toss it out

Whatever else happens, she should not throw the document out. She should keep everything. And if she hands documents over to a lawyer, she should keep a copy for herself too (don't hand over her only copy). You never know what she might need it for.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:36 PM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

The "crazy barometer" is predicting a Category 5 hurricane. Keep the document, as LobsterMitten suggests, but she need take no action.

Child support is awarded by a court. Absent a court order, no party may be compelled to pay child support to anyone. She currently has an order saying that he owes child support, an order which he has disobeyed. He has no order saying she owes anything. Ergo, he owes her money, including interest on past-due amounts, and she owes him nothing.

She might want to look into getting his wages garnished. True, he isn't earning anything right now, but presumably he will eventually.
posted by valkyryn at 5:02 PM on September 16, 2008

Also, regarding having papers served, a person can have just about any other person served any papers at all. All it proves is that the receiver actually got the document, not that it has the weight of court behind it.
posted by rocketman at 5:30 PM on September 16, 2008

No matter how silly his claim might seem, your friend should still consult with an attorney--she can just go in for an hour or two, explain everything that's going on (reduced visitation, refusal to pay child support, his request for child support), and have the attorney suggest a plan of action. The family court system can be confusing for a layperson, and having someone explain the options/procedures ahead of time is well worth the money IMO.
posted by creepygirl at 5:56 PM on September 16, 2008

I second saving the documents, you never know what you might need them for down the road. And call a legal non-profit to get advice on the situation. My guess is that it won't take them five minutes to put all of your worries to rest.
posted by unreasonable at 6:55 PM on September 16, 2008

That's basically what I thought; something else is that he's become a "full-time student" so that he can effectively list his wages as $0. She is NOT a student, so he's listing her as earning minimum wage, because in his bizarre head, opportunity cost can be billed against the custodial parent.

I guess they technically have joint custody, except that again, the child lives with her, and only visits him every other weekend. Except, not him, since he doesn't live here.

Brilliance all around. Thanks for your comments, all!
posted by disillusioned at 7:06 PM on September 16, 2008

I guess they technically have joint custody

Either they have joint custody or they don't. All the more reason not to go without legal advice. This factor as well as several others (including the weird claim for child support, implying a right to some kind of custody, even after moving out of state) will have to be looked at.

We so often throw around the word "technically" as if it means something.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:29 PM on September 16, 2008

When I used to do payroll at this small company, I had to deduct child support for one guy that worked there. I knew his two kids lived with him and his new wife full-time, and he was their primary caretaker. His ex only occassionally bothered to exercise her visitation, so I never quite understood why he still had to pay her child support out of every paycheck. But apparently it does sometimes happen that the non-custodial parent gets child support.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:03 PM on September 16, 2008

This involves children and the law. You need to have a lawyer take care of this.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:50 AM on September 17, 2008

Oriole Adams, that could have been a scenario where the dude was in arrears from a time when the mother had custody. He would still owe the money that he should have paid even if the arrangements have since changed.
posted by ktpupp at 8:12 AM on September 17, 2008

Ignoring legal papers, even really crazy ones, is never a good idea. If your friend isn't currently working, her minimal income might qualify her for advice from a free legal services organization.
posted by Mavri at 10:54 AM on September 17, 2008

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