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AlexiaEsq.
AlexiaEsq., Managing Attorney
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  19+ Years of Legal Practice in Family law matters.
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I received a letter today from the State of Alabama Department

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I received a letter today from the State of Alabama Department of Human Resources stating that in August 2003 I received a total of $286 in error from the Child Support Enforcement Division. The letter also states the these payments, $152 and $134 each dated 8/11/2003, were posted to my case in error and that I must repay the money in 15 days. Of course I did not know I needed to keep records for over 7 years, and I do not have enough paperwork for me to know without a doubt that what they are telling me is correct. Also, if I pay this amount now, will they come back and say I owe more in a few more years? My daughter turned 19 in September 2010, and so child support is not longer being paid on her behalf. Can they legally request this back after so many years? Thank you for any information you provide.
Hi!

I received a letter today from the State of Alabama Department of Human Resources stating that in August 2003 I received a total of $286 in error from the Child Support Enforcement Division. The letter also states the these payments, $152 and $134 each dated 8/11/2003, were posted to my case in error and that I must repay the money in 15 days. Of course I did not know I needed to keep records for over 7 years, and I do not have enough paperwork for me to know without a doubt that what they are telling me is correct. I agree that that is frustrating!

Also, if I pay this amount now, will they come back and say I owe more in a few more years? You never know. Perhaps consider sending them a letter with the check, mailed certified r.r.r.. On the check, in the memo, right, "full and final payment account XXX (if there is an account#)" and in the letter saying something like: On XX date I received a letter from you dated XXX, wherein you tell me that you made an error back in August 11, 2003, whereby you forwarded $XX dollars to much for my child's support payable to me. While this is far too many years in the past for me to be able to properly reviewed and check your accuracy, given that I don't keep records past 7 years, I feel I have no choice but to pay this. However, please note that if you believe you have any additional "errors" to claim a near decade later, or from any time prior hereto, please determine same and provide me that information immediately. The enclosed check is intended to by full and final settlement of any alleged errors on your part, and I am providing same with the understanding that it will be the final charge by you unless I hear OTHERWISE from you within the same 15 day time limit you gave me to pay for this error of yours. See copy of your charging letter, attached here to...." There is no guarantee that they won't be incompetent again, but if they do, you may have a stronger basis to take it to court.

My daughter turned 19 in September 2010, and so child support is not longer being paid on her behalf.Excellent!

Can they legally request this back after so many years? Thank you for any information you provide.
Yes, anyone believing they are owed money, can ALWAYS ask or 'demand' it back. What they often can't do it use a court of law to enforce it, that is all. A statute of limitations can prevent a successful law suit if filed after the SOL has passed, if the defendant files and answer and includes the SOL as an affirmative defense, then motions the court to dismiss the suit based on the SOL (still a pain, as you can see, but it works). However, an SOL does not eliminate the debt and does not prevent someone from asking to be paid. They can use non-court measures to get paid - for instance, state child support can likely intervene in a future tax refund...without having to take you to court. (Other creditors could not.)

For this reason, if I didn't want a current headache, I would pay it but create evidence wherein they were asked for any other 'errors' that needed to be cleared up, IF they existed, and they did not produce any. I think at a later date, proof of that communication and their decision either not to check or not to send, could be used perhaps as a good defense, similar to laches.


Good luck with your decision.

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