Divorcing in 2000 when Alisha was five (5) years old, Engineer Father, and Government employed Mother, self represented their dissolution, agreeing to joint custody for Alisha, with $450 monthly child support due Mother. Mother and Father agreed orally, however, that Father’s support due Mother would be paid directly to Alisha’s private school tuition which is exactly what Father had done for the next eleven years, the last two of which Alisha lived exclusively with Dad, seeing Mother but once.
In late 2011 Mother filed her motion for over $100,000 in combined support and interest claiming Father had been shorting her the support all those years seeking arrears plus attorney fees since Mother had long before quit her government job and was now earning less than one third Father’s salary.
FathersRights weighed in with the defense and managed a series of depositions early on well before trial in late February when two of Mother’s former best friends testified to Mother’s statements to them over the years that Father was by their mutual agreement making support payments directly for tuition for Alisha’s private schooling. FathersRights also deposed Mother who steadfastly testified to the contrary and that Father’s witnesses were never really that close to her and had reason to perjure their testimony given their recent disputes with Mother over unrelated issues.
In the past fifteen years, the Courts have stripped all but two defenses for a supporting Father to his detriment in the defense of such cases; namely, equitable support credit where the supporting parent assumes custody of the minor without seeking an order modifying the old order based on shared custody, and estoppel where admissible evidence exists that the supported party by words or conduct affirms the supporting parent’s reasonable belief that a novation has occurred and has relied to his detriment thereon.
Father established both defenses by careful calendar management and further established novation by testimony by Mother’s two former friends. He also established the expenditure over the years of over fifty thousand dollars more for Alisha than required by the support decree of 2000.
The Judge forced a two day trial to one day taking no breaks mid morning or mid afternoon. At 4:45 then on February 27 the Court ruled for Father finding he had carried his burden of proof on all issues, remarking that Mother, herself, had admitted that Father had always provided well for Alisha, and that the law provides that child support is paid for the benefit of the child, not the custodial parent.
Father and his new mate celebrated with PJM late into the evening in grateful relief and gratitude that a jurist had listened to the evidence and applied the law justly in a case where the finder of fact is often biased against Fathers for suspicion of dereliction of duty — and inclined to prejudice to consider all in similar situations unfairly as ‘Deadbeat Dads’. PJM.