Mesa, AZ asked in Family Law for Arizona

Q: My father was order to pay child support on my brother and I back in 1973, but he moved back to Puerto Rico.

My father abandon us, for years he got away with moving back and fourth to Camden, NJ to Puerto Rico so he would have to pay child support. Do I have any rights as his daughter.

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2 Lawyer Answers

Mike Branum

Answered
  • Saint George, UT
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: If he is residing in Puerto Rico, you are, unfortunately, out of luck. Puerto Rico's statute of limitations on collection of child support arrears is five years after the age of majority or emancipation. Since you and your brother both had to be alive in 1973 in order for your genetic donor (this male human has not earned the "father" title; that comes with responsibilities which I find no evidence have been met) to have been ordered to pay child support, you are both now over the age of 23 and may not pursue the child support arrearages in Puerto Rico.

If you can show that your genetic donor resides in New Jersey and you can effect service on him consistent with the state's rules for service in the matter, you could pursue a case there as New Jersey has no statute of limitations on child support in arrears. If you were able to get a court judgment against him, it would be enforceable even if he returned to Puerto Rico because it would no longer be merely child support but a court-ordered judgment which Puerto Rican courts would recognize despite the fact the case could not have been brought in a Puerto Rican court directly.

You should review the order, do the math, and determine the value of your case before contacting an attorney to discuss initiating legal action. You should also reflect on your potential to recover even if you do win. If your genetic donor owns real property in New Jersey, you might have a chance of recovering since you could put a lien on the property should he fail to pay any judgment you receive.

As you can see, there are a number of moving parts to this process and it would be extremely difficult to undertake any action against your genetic donor without the assistance of an attorney licensed in New Jersey.

A: The age of majority in Puerto Rico is 21 so you would have until the age of 26 to file for back child support.

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