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Mother of long-lost daughter suddenly owes $11,000 in back child support

Your Question:
I am 33 years old I had my first daughter out of wedlock, at the age of 18. I married and had a second daughter in 94' when she was 6 months old, we divorced. I having no resources to take care of two, agreed to joint custody with my ex having costodial. However, soon after the divorce, he moved out of state. With no notice or any way to visit. I have now not seen my daughter since. At the time of divorce, there was no child support obligation addministered. To my knowledge, none since. I recieved a set-off letter today from the state of kansas telling me I owe 10999.89$ worth of child support. I know it is not fair of me to try to go to court and take my daughter even though we have joint custody and i have not seen her in ten years, however i also do not think it is fair for me to have to pay for my ex to be on welfare when he has had no respect for the courts decision on joint custody? Please help i do not want to destroy what my daughter knows as a life, but i do not want to support my ex husband and i know that is what i would be doing. If he would have let me be a constint in her life this might not have happened. Also, how can any organization decide on a child support payment without notification. My other children suffer enough without her being with us let alone what they will have to give up if i have to pay this ungodly amount.Any suggestions would be deaply appreciated.

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My Answer:

What's very unfortunate for you is that you are now facing the consequences of actions and decisions you made in the far past, and it's going to have a significant impact on your present and future lives. I have never heard of a case where past child support was forgiven when being collected against public assistance (i.e., or welfare) support paid by a state.

The only advice I can give you is to consult with a family law attorney in Kansas quickly. It's possible that you may be able to work out a payment schedule for the arrears you face. I don't know if you can claim hardship, if that has any bearing on reducing the amount you owe.

Your life may become very unpleasant if the state starts pursuing collection against you. They can garnish wages, intercept tax refunds, suspend driver's license, or throw you in jail. I don't know if any of that WILL happen. But it has happened to others.

At the same time that you're approaching the court on the child support issue, you can petition to reinstate some sort of custodial time with your daughter. You can petition for reunification services (e.g., counseling for you and daughter) to help ease the transition of getting to know each other again. You can outline the attempts you made over the years to find your child, with no luck.

Another avenue to pursue is to examine the child's quality of life. If she is well-adjusted with a strong "mother" figure, you may want to see if you can terminate parental rights and have the stepmom adopt her. It's up to you to decide if this would be best for her. Likewise, when parental rights are terminated, you will not face any further child support obligation (i.e., but you still may owe what exists).

In terms of your children suffering "without her being with you", it could have only been your choice to make your missing child an issue with your other children. I don't know why you would have felt it best to make them miss their half-sibling who was removed from your home at the age of 6 months. Your first child was approximately four years old when the second child was born in 1994, so I can't imagine your first child even remembers that baby today in 2005.

Sometimes, we as parents must shoulder our pain alone so that our children don't have to carry a heavy burden. It's often a very lonely and painful road to do the right thing.

If you haven't gotten your life to a place today wherein you're making better decisions for yourself and your kids-- compared to when you were younger -- it's time to start. Your road is about to get rougher by having to deal with this child support backpay, and you need to find strength to face it. If you haven't ever tried counseling to work out any lingering issues, you may wish to find a counselor who can guide you to discover your inner strength.

While we, as humans, often focus on "fairness" or "should, would, could", none of that matters in your situation. The facts are: you owe eleven thousand dollars in support to Kansas, and that won't go away. You need to be proactive in trying to minimize the impact this has on your life because your other children are counting on you to keep their home as stable as possible.

Truly best wishes for you to find the right answers for all of this.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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