In March a short news piece out of Carlsbad, California went viral.
The headline read: “Southern California woman wins $150,000 in child support 50 years after Divorce”
Toni Anderson is now 74. In her retirement years, money is so tight she rents out part of her home to make ends meet. In her interview, she states she was lying awake one night when she realized that there was no statute of limitations on child support. By now, with interest, her ex-husband owed her around $170,000.00
Anderson is very honest about the fact that during her working and child-rearing years she “put this on the back burner and kind of forgot about it.” She was able to support her daughter on her own, and that included college and a trip to Paris. But, Anderson goes on to say, “the money runs out” and she has found herself struggling in her golden years.
What This Means for You
Moms today: Head this warning! During your working and child-rearing years you still have to provide for yourself! This includes saving for retirement. This is not something you should put on the back burner.
You have the absolute RIGHT to collect support from the other parent of your child/children. What took two to create is not a burden for one to bear alone. So if you have to go after your ex so that you can do both – support your children and provide for yourself, well then that’s what needs to be done. Your children have the RIGHT to be supported by both parents and support includes money. You have the RIGHT to collect child support so you may save some money for your retirement.
I previously wrote about Anne, a composite of many of the parents I have dealt with over the years. After Anne and Bill divorced he moved away and remarried. He started a new life that did not include paying support for his child with Anne. Anne did not utilize every legal tool available to her to collect the owed support. She soon found herself at 52 living in a rental unit, paycheck to paycheck, with nothing in her retirement accounts. Oh, and a son headed to college.
Where is Anne going to be at 62? 72?
Child Support Can Prevent This Future
When planning for the future after a relationship dissolution that includes children you have the RIGHT to insist that your needs are met as well as the children’s needs.
Your “golden years” when you can no longer work is one of those needs. Child support can help keep money in your retirement account. You are supposed to be putting money back during your peak earning years for the retirement phase of life and if you are not able to do so due to another person’s actions you are being defrauded of your future.
Consider your children’s future as well. Do you want to have to rely on your children when you can no longer provide for yourself?
You Are NOT a Stereotype
The stereotype that only desperate “gold diggers” go after child support money needs to go.
These stigmas permeate society. They degrade women and make excuses for these man-children. Needing child support payments from the other parent is not and will never be shameful, not even if you are indeed poor. It also doesn’t matter if your income allows you to cover the necessities in life but not extras, it doesn’t matter if you want to provide your children with more opportunities and your current salary doesn’t allow for it. If you don’t want to continually dip into your savings and retirement accounts when you come up short, that’s okay too. If you are broke when you reach retirement age because you constantly raided your accounts to raise your children, that’s not okay. Self-sufficiency and the pursuit of child support are not mutually exclusive. You can have all the money in the world, and you would still have a right to collect your unpaid child support.
Don’t Wait to Collect
One more time for those not getting it: YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO COLLECT SUPPORT FOR YOUR CHILDREN. You are not required to do it all alone and spend your retirement years staying up all night worrying about money, taking in boarders, or living in your son’s garage.
Consider what Toni Anderson had to say about her ex’s reaction to her suit for the unpaid support, “I think he’s a little bit panicked, and I’m very happy because I was panicked all those years. Now it’s his turn.”
Ms. Anderson wants to spread the word to other moms now, encouraging them that it’s never too late. You can still collect it. “I don’t think enough women get this, and I think women are afraid.”
Ms. Anderson and her ex reached a settlement in a private hearing where he agreed to pay $150.000.
I agree with Ms. Anderson. It’s never too late to collect and you have nothing to fear. If you have an arrears statement sitting around collecting dust, it’s time to start your plan to collect what is legally yours.
Your retirement depends on collecting your unpaid child support.