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Author Topic: Father To Pay 15 Years In Back Child Support  (Read 3812 times)


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Father To Pay 15 Years In Back Child Support
« on: Dec 25, 2003, 10:16:35 AM »
Father To Pay 15 Years In Back Child Support

Dec 23, 2003 6:58 pm US/Eastern

HARRISBURG (AP) A narrowly divided state Supreme Court has ruled that a man who began paying child support after a paternity test in 2000 revealed he was the father of a teenage girl must pay support going back to 1988, an amount that his lawyer estimates could exceed $85,000.

"It's going to change my whole life, because the expense (was) not factored into my retirement," said 56-year-old Snyder County welder Robert W. Ely, who lost a 4-3 decision last week that left him owing 12 years of back support for Tenaya Beth Christianson.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Sandra Schultz Newman, blamed the delay on foot-dragging by Ely and a lack of follow-through on the part of Tenaya's mother, Donna K. Christianson.

"It appears that (she) did not pursue what she filed very vigorously, and when she did move forward, Ely resisted and dragged it out," Newman wrote.

Child support begins to accrue at the time legal action is initiated, which in this case was 1988. Retroactive support is common, in part because it can take a month or more to get the matter before a judge.

But Ely's lawyer, Brian L. Kerstetter, said the succession of three support complaints - in 1988, 1997 and 1999 - and the fact that Tenaya is now 18 years old, makes the case "extremely uncommon."

Newman's opinion called it "a good example of the time-consuming nature of the litigation process, and the reason why (court rules) and the courts prefer retroactivity in support matters."

In dissent, Justice J. Michael Eakin said the back support should begin in 1999, when the most recent complaint was filed.

"The majority's result is concurrently unfair to (Ely) and unavailing to the child. Had (he) been the cause of this delay, I would afford him no sympathy or relief," Eakin wrote. "However, he is not."

He described Donna Christianson as a "litigationally lethargic appellee" whose "dilatory conduct and indifference left this child without support through the formative years, but she is rewarded with support sums that will continue after the child has left her home."

Christianson, 57, who lives outside Beavertown and, along with Tenaya, works as a clerk in a natural-food and garden store near Lewisburg, said she struggled to raise three children alone and did not always have the resources to follow up on the support case.

Christianson's first job as a single mother was cleaning houses for $3 an hour. At the time of her brief affair with Ely, she was married to another man, with whom she had two other children.

"For me to be constantly going in to heckle somebody who has a lot of money and just wants to be relieved of the responsibility financially -- no, the children came first, their care, their needs," she said Tuesday.

She pursued the case for so long out of her belief that single parents are entitled to support, she said.

"After a point, it's not your case any more. It's other women and children, or other parents," Christianson said.

Michael McCormick, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group American Coalition for Fathers and Children, said the decision was "grossly unfair" and could be a major financial hardship for Ely, who has been laid off.

"It flies in the face of any kind of equity for this biological father," McCormick said.

Christianson's lawyer, Brian W. Ulmer, said the county domestic relations office will probably be responsible for calculating the precise amount Ely owes. He was paying $563 a month beginning in October 2000 until September, when Tenaya moved out on her own.

Ely said he is considering asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.

Tenaya, who has had no relationship with Ely, said her mother did the right thing.

"I really don't care about the money," she said. "It's more or less that it went through and he didn't quite get his way, I'll say. That makes me a little bit happy, that we at least won."

(She "doesn't care about the money"? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.......)


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Sounds like a "Real" Deadbeat dad to me!
« Reply #1 on: Dec 25, 2003, 09:30:59 PM »
If he knew he had a child in 1988, he had the responsibility to help support the child.  It is apparent that the mother did not have the financial resources to continue the fight for cs, and he didn't give any.  I personally don't blame her.  From 88-2000 he should have been paying 550-600 mo/cs, and if he had put that money in his retirement acct, he should have made quite a bit on it by now.  

But the fact remains, he knew, he chose not to help support his child.


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RE: Father To Pay 15 Years In Back Child Support
« Reply #2 on: Jan 06, 2004, 06:02:01 PM »
My ds's father was ordered to pay 7 years in back cs. It was over $30k, but it's not like I'll see the money. If he wasn't paying it 7 years ago, he ordering him to pay all that isn't go to change anything.


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