When two parents end their marital relationship, there are many things to consider as they part ways. One of the most important is the children they have and the amount of child support the non-custodial parent will need to pay each month to provide a sustainable way of life for those children. Pennsylvania parents may be interested in a recent ruling by another state's Supreme Court that there is no time limit to collect child support, no matter the age of the child.
After having been married for seven years, a U.S. Marine and his wife divorced. The agreement between them stated that he would pay $160 each month in child support for their two children as long as his ex-wife did not marry or live with another man for at least 18 months. Not long after signing the agreement however, the man seemingly disappeared, and the Marine base where he was stationed listed him as AWOL -- even his parents did not know where he was. The ex-wife remarried after two years, and nearly 20 years after his disappearance, the man was given a bad-conduct discharge from the Marines.
A search on Google in 2014 revealed the man's current address, prompting the ex-wife to seek child and spousal support to cover the past 40 years. The trial court dismissed the case because of laches, or an unreasonable delay in pursuing the money she felt was owed to her. She appealed to her state's Supreme Court, and their ruling stated the claim of laches was permissible in the request for spousal support because she had made no effort to find her ex-husband between 1979 and 2014. As for the claim for child support, the judge explained that there is no statute of limitations for payments and the father must pay the child support he owed, even though the children were presently in their 40s.
This case is an example of how child support issues can be complicated. Pennsylvania parents wanting to ensure their children have their basic needs supplied, or even extras if incomes allow, may need assistance while attempting to come to an agreement suitable to both parties. Attorneys who are proficient in the practice of family law can help parents as they strive to provide the best they can for their children.
Source: courthousenews.com, "Missing Marine Can't Dodge Child Support", Jeff D. Gorman, Oct. 4, 2016