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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 32323
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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I just received notice that daughters grand parents in

Customer Question

I just received notice that daughters grand parents in Colorado are trying ng to get a judgment against me for past child support 28 years later. In the amount of 333,000. I signed over right in 1995 u nder the understanding that I diudnt have to pay. I have a relationship with my daughter since she was 21.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 10 months ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts.

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Customer: replied 10 months ago.
My question is what kind of defense I have? They waited over 20 years to do this. I have been in contact wit hem for the past 8 years. Never was money talked about. I fact in 2007 the mother told me she wasn't going after me for money. Something changed. My daughter is upset about being in the middle. I own my own business but this could destroy it
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 10 months ago.

The child support arrearage issue in AZ is a little confusing due to a chance in the laws back in 2006. However, I think this applies to you.

The statute of limitations for collection of child support was eliminated effective September 21, 2006. In cases filed prior to September 21, 2006 where the youngest child had emancipated and three years have passed: If a final judgment on arrears was not obtained, then the arrears cannot be collected. If a final judgment on arrears was obtained prior to that date, then the arrears set forth in that judgment can be collected. If a judgment was obtained for any time period within the duration of the current child support and there is a balance still due, then those arrears can be collected.

What that means is that if the youngest child turned 18 in 2003 and they file in court for an arrearage by September 21, 2006, then they are now barred by the statute of limitations.

That would be an absolute bar but you need to hire a lawyer to help you sort through the dates and present them to the judge because it is going to be difficult to explain and calculate.

If the child did not turn 18 before that date then it is going to make it even more difficult since there is no way to relieve someone from the obligation to pay child support (if an order was entered) other than by going back to court. Unfortunately, many people do what you did and then don't follow up to be sure that the order was entered cancelling their child support and then years later are faced with the same situation you are.

There is also a defense in that the grandparents shouldn't have "standing", which is the legal ability to bring a lawsuit, to sue you for back child support unless there was an order ordering you to pay child support to them directly. The only other possible way they would have standing is if 1) he daughter somehow assigned them the right to collect the child support arrearage (and I've never seen a case stating this is or is not legal), or 2) your ex-wife has now passed away and they are trying to collect on behalf of her estate through the probate proceeding.

While I am a big believer in people representing themselves this is not one of those cases where you want to do that. In addition to the arguments set forth above there are also equitable arguments which can be made but those are based on your specific facts and are highly sensitive to what the ex says when questioned, what the records show, etc.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi. The case is in Colorado. I don't think they have a statue of limitations there. I live in az. I signed my right to the grand parents in 1995. The mother was never around much. In the paperwork she has given the grand parents full authority on this
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 10 months ago.

I'm sorry, the facts above indicated the GPOs were in CO but that it was an AZ case.

In CO you are correct, there would be no statute of limitations at all.

1) Where were the kids when you signed your rights over?

2) Which state issued the original order for child support?

3) Do you know if they ever filed the order with the court?

4) Did you have a lawyer review the order you signed to see if it did away with your child suport payments?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Colorado issued the order. The kid was with grandparents when order was issued. I don't remember if support payments where included when I signed over rights. I was led to believe they where. That's why I signed. I don't have a copy from back then. I think they and they're attorney do. They sent in a request for judgement based on the original 1989 court order. They have never talked to me about this at all. So I was a bit caught off gard
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 10 months ago.

It's impossible to say what you need to do strategically, other than hire an attorney, without knowing the exact facts and what the order said. Sometimes the orders terminating parental rights state that there is no arrearage and no child support is due in the future while others state there is an arrearage which would still be owed and others that make you responsible for child support for the future.

It sounds like the order that was entered at least held you liable for some amount of back child support.

There are still some equitable defenses you can use, such as "accord and satisfaction" if they agreed to stop the child support if you terminated your rights. However, you are going to need to hire a CO lawyer to handle the matter at this point and it is likely going to be a fight.

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