Q: Is my daughters father responsible for all 18 years of child support never paid
I did not know of his whereabouts until roughly 1 year ago. Now that I know where he is I filed a contempt case as he never paid the court ordered child support (court ordered in 2001). Is he responsible for all 18 years? I see conflicting information regarding the statute of limitations.
A: Child support due under a divorce decree (either as ordered by the court or agreed to by the parties as part of an agreement that is incorporated into the judgment of divorce) may be enforced and reduced to a separate monetary judgment up to 12 years following the date the support payment became due under the judgment. This is because judgments may be enforced for 12 years. So, as of the date you filed your motion or petition to enforce the past due child support arrears and reduce the arrears to judgment, the court can go back only 12 years prior to the date you filed and calculate all support payments due from that prior date through the date that support terminated (e.g., the date your child turned 18 or completed high school if she turned 18 before graduation). Those amounts are then reduced to a separate monetary judgment, and that new judgment is now enforceable for a period of 12 years (and may be renewed an additional 12 years before the initial 12 year term expires). You may also be entitled to request pre-judgment interest on the unpaid support arrears, at a rate of 6% per year from the date each payment fell due. After the date judgment is entered, you are entitled to post-judgment interest at 10% per year. The Family Law article also provides that you may request an additional judgment for attorneys fees and costs for having to enforce the child support order. It is important to remember that a statute of limitations defense is an "affirmative" defense, that is waived if the defendant fails to raise it in his first responsive pleading to your motion to enforce. Therefore, when you file, feel free to request ALL the arrears going back even further than 12 years, and if the defendant fails to timely raise the defense of the statute of limitations, then you can ask the court to deem the defense waived and enter judgment for the full amount.
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