According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015, less than half (43%) of all parents received the full amount of child support they were due. In fact, in a startling report from 2012, CNN stated over $100 billion was owed in unpaid child support— with half of that being owed to parents raising children on public assistance.
For poor mothers, child support payments make up nearly half of their total income. So, what this means is that deadbeats are a big reason why single-mother homes often fall below the poverty line.
Recently, a 74-year-old mother named Toni Anderson decided to take a stand, suing her deadbeat ex nearly 50 years after their divorce and winning $150,000 in owed child support.
Anderson and her ex-husband Donald Lenhart separated in 1968 with an official divorce in 1970. Around this time, Anderson claims Lenhart fled to Canada to avoid paying his monthly, $200 child support payments.
At the time, Anderson was more concerned with raising her two-year-old daughter than engaging in a lengthy court battle. Alone, she made a successful career as an interior designer, even sending her daughter to college in Paris. However, after her retirement, she started to think about the past.
In an interview with Inside Edition, she said: “Now that I’m older and retired, it came to me that I deserve this money.”
“It was totally on principle. The money was one thing but I started realizing that we are letting deadbeat dads get away with too much,” she told CTV News.
In a moment of sheer brilliance, Anderson realized that in the state of California, where her support order was handed down, there is no statute of limitations on child support. After doing a little research and discovering her ex had relocated to Oregon, she started looking for a lawyer to take on her case.
At first, attorney Sara Yunus was apprehensive. But after taking a closer look at the original court order, she decided to help. In an interview with Inside Edition, Yunus said:
“The law allows her to do this.”
“I thought she was brilliant. I thought she was great for doing this.”
When Anderson had her day in court this past February, the judge ordered her ex to pay the $35,000 in child support owed— along with a whopping $120,000 in interest.
As you can imagine, he was shocked by decision— however, if his statement is any indication, he seems to have matured. In a statement via his attorney, he said:
“I was glad to pay Ms. Anderson the child support that was owed and I wish her only the best in the future.”
According to reports, Anderson’s daughter Lane is proud of her mother for “standing up for herself”, and Anderson hopes her story can be an inspiration for other mothers out there.
“We want to empower women to go out there and go for it,” she said.
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