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Chris T., JD
Chris T., JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4829
Experience:  Experienced in both state and federal court.
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Hi! Im a non-custodial dad, my daughter is 20. I owe $31000

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Hi! I'm a non-custodial dad, my daughter is 20. I owe $31000 to her mom. Her mom and I have been on EXCELLENT terms, however now she has apparently gone to an attorney to collect, even though we had a verbal agreement that I would pay the owed amount directly to her upon completion of my move to Louisville, KY (kid & mom live there, I'm in MA). The atty wants me to pay HIM the arrears owed, plus another $60k in interest and late fees, which is usurious to say the least. I've been blindsided by this situation. If her mom needed the money sooner, all she had to do was ask, not go to an attorney. What do I do?

Chris T., JD :

Good afternoon. I'll be glad to assist you with your question.

Customer:

Hi, Chris. This whole thing has taken me by surprise.

Chris T., JD :

I understand. Hopefully I can give you some direction. If the attorney brings suit, you will have to pay him directly. In order to determine what is a usurious interest rate, you have to remember that in Kentucky, the interest rate for child support arrears is 12 percent per year, compounded. Depending on how long you've been not paying, that could add up quickly.

Chris T., JD :

My suggestion is that you offer to pay the original $31k (or however much you can pay up front), and see if they will take it. An attorney has an ethical obligation to communicate any offer you make to your ex, his client. If you are on good terms with her, she may be willing to accept it.

Customer:

I had NO idea that anything was amiss, and she has apparently blocked my calls and texts. I'm just trying to find out WHY she's doing this. We were on such good terms, that we'd have "quality time" whenever I'd fly down to visit, and I stayed in her home every time!

Chris T., JD :

My guess is that she got to talking to someone - a friend, relative, etc. - who encouraged her to do this.

Chris T., JD :

I've seen that more times that I can count.

Customer:

She knows full well that I'd pay her sooner if she asked!

Customer:

BTW, I tried to get the balance from the KY DOR, but they didn't send me anything at all, and I have the emails to prove it

Chris T., JD :

Either that, or she some how knows this attorney, who encouraged her to bring suit, since he stands to make money from it.

Customer:

So should I hire an attorney?

Chris T., JD :

If I were in your position, I would first try to negotiate something I could live with on my own. Even if you have to pay a little more than you would if you had an attorney, you will have some certainty and save on attorney's fees.

Customer:

If her attorney makes an alternate offer, how can I be sure he'll stick with it?

Chris T., JD :

He will draft a release, which guarantees your settlement will be the end of the matter.

Customer:

First of all, this atty has given me 10 days to pay arrears + interest 10 days from the writing of his letter, and it took 2 days for it to get here! He wants me to pay directly to his office, but the total to be made out to the mother

Customer:

I don't think this guy is on the level

Chris T., JD :

You may want to check with your ex to make sure she understands what he's offering you. Hopefully, he isn't telling her one thing and you another.

Chris T., JD :

Since you aren't an attorney, there is nothing preventing you from contacting her directly about this.

Customer:

She blocked my calls and texts, so I can't check with her! I was able to send an email, but I doubt she'll answer

Chris T., JD :

Even if she doesn't respond, she'll still get the message. If he isn't on the level, she'll know and be able to take action.

Customer:

Is there any way I can challenge the interest, et al? 12% compounded is outrageous!

Chris T., JD :

No, 12% compounded is what's allowed by statute.

Customer:

The case was closed a while ago, and the mom gave me the original paperwork from the courts stating so. I would have paid it thru the MA DOR/CSE, but the case was closed

Chris T., JD :

Ultimately, it really doesn't make a huge difference whether you pay through the state or a private attorney.

Customer:

I had another case, but in MA, if the principal arrears are paid, the state will waive all interest & fees.

Chris T., JD :

Some states have that policy, and some do not. I'm not sure what the policy in KY is.

Customer:

Neither do I, but wouldn't any legal action have to go thru the MA courts?

Chris T., JD :

It could go through either.

Customer:

Either what?

Chris T., JD :

Either state. MA or KY.

Customer:

How could I possibly defend myself, when I'm 800 miles away?

Customer:

Not to mention that KY DOR failed to provide me with the info I requested, and have a right to?

Chris T., JD :

Individuals are frequently sued outside their own state. You would have to hire an attorney in KY, and handle things from there.

Chris T., JD :

Yes, they should have provided you that info, but that isn't really important in regard to your current situation with the attorney.

Customer:

Then how was I supposed to pay to the mom without an accurate specified amount? This makes no sense! Also, how can I hire an attorney in KY and not get stuck with some shyster?

Chris T., JD :

As part of your settlement, you can sit down with the attorney and calculate your arrears. It may not be easy, but it can be done.

Customer:

I'm 800 miles away! How would that be done?

Chris T., JD :

If you want to hire a lawyer in KY, you can use www.lawyers.com or www.martindale.com. Both are reputable lawyer referral websites and also rate lawyers, so you can be sure you are getting a good one.

Chris T., JD :

You can do it via email, telephone, videoconference, etc. Or, you can make a trip to KY.

Customer:

How can I be sure her atty will be honest? At this point, he's the enemy.

Chris T., JD :

a) you can hire your own; b) you can try to do the calculations on your own.

Customer:

With what info? the KY DOR hasn't given me ANYTHING to work with!

Chris T., JD :

You will have to go through your own records and make your own determination on what you've paid, when, and how much you owe. Clearly, you have some amount of information since you know you owe $31k in arrears.

Customer:

Only from the letter I got from her atty! The DOR was delinquent in their obligation to send me the account info I requested

Chris T., JD :

OK. I assumed that was info you had from DOR at some point. Still, you have the same options: a) keep trying with DOR; b) hire an attorney in KY to figure it out; b) get your records (what you've paid, when, how much, and what you still owe) and figure it out on your own. The DOR is not the only way to know what you owe.

Customer:

I guess I'll have to hire an attorney, because I know all too well that to deal with the courts, either you have an attorney or you get screwed

Chris T., JD :

While that is often the case, it really depends on the case and how comfortable you are dealing with it on your own. There is no question that having an attorney makes things easier on you.

Customer:

True, considering they like to pull out arcane laws and statutes that the layman has no awareness of

Chris T., JD :

Unfortunately, you are right, the law can sometimes be complicated.

Chris T., JD :

Can I do anything else for you?

Customer:

No, but you have been very helpful. Thank you!

Chris T., JD :

Glad I could help! If there isn't anything else I can do for you, please remember to "Rate" my answer before you go. Good luck.

Customer:

Absolutely!

Chris T., JD :

Great! Have a wonderful day!

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