Voting Question: Dad is trying to get out of back child support with my mom… what are the legalities?

When I was 11 and my brother was 15, my parents finalized their divorce. At the time, my dad was working at American Airlines and making decent money. The court based his child support on his income there (though I still feel it was not enough, but that’s not the issue). My mom was also awarded his pension in the divorce.

My dad had always been an alcoholic (the reason for my mom kicking him out), and shortly after leaving our house, he began using crack cocaine. It became a huge addiction and he lost his job because of it about six months after the divorce. He never took the time to go to the court to let them know that his income had changed, so they kept him at the rate they had given him while he was with American Airlines. He did not pay child support for a long time. He has paid about $32,000 in total, and still officially owes about $43,000 in back child support. Has has recovered from his addiction and remarried, and has been paying my mom about $200 per month for the back child support.

My mom just received a letter from an attorney my dad hired. He is not suing her or taking official legal action, but the letter asked that she consider giving him back his pension and calling it even on the child support. Basically, my dad is saying that he was not making the kind of money he was when the child support amount was ordered, so he should not have to pay what he still owes.

He made an itemized list of all the child support payments he’s ever made, but he included things that were taken as gifts to me and my brother at the time, such as helping me with a semester of college tuition, helping me pay to fix my car, etc. There’s more to the story, though. He got an apartment after my mom kicked him out. When he made his security deposit, my parents were not officially divorced yet, so he used a credit card that was in both of their names. When the DID get divorced, he was supposed to be held accountable for their credit cards and half of my brother’s and my medical bills, and he never paid either. When he got evicted from the apartment, the four months’ past rent and security deposit were charged to the credit card. My mom ended up paying for it because she didn’t want her credit to be ruined. The apartment complex also sent a collection agency after him. Their car, which was awarded to my mom in the divorce was still in both of their names according to Ford, so the car ended up being impounded. My mom had to pay $2,500 to get it out of impound because it was the only car we had.

My mom could have easily put him in jail for nonpayment of child support many times. He also broke into our house on a few occasions to take money to support his drug habit. We have no proof of this, but we found money missing (including from my piggy bank, when I was 12), and our neighbor told us that she had seen him coming in the window while we were gone. My mom never took any action because she didn’t want to put me and my brother through more trauma than we’d already been through.

I’ve already called him and told him that he is no longer invited to my wedding (I am now 22, my brother 26) and that I will no longer speak to him if he tries to take legal action against my mother for this crap. My mom paid for our house, a car, school supplies, the credit cards and medical bills HE was supposed to pay for, our sports equipment, food, Christmases and birthdays, EVERYTHING. But that’s beside the point.

My question is this: does he have any ground to stand on here? Will the court see that his income changed and be able to let the rest of his back child support slide, or will they say that it’s too bad and that it’s his own fault for being too cracked out and lazy to come to court and tell them of his change of income? My mom doesn’t know what to do and cannot afford to hire a lawyer. She is in deep debt because of all the things my dad never paid for. I just want to at least have an idea of what he has the right to do, and what she can do to counteract any kind of crap he might try to pull. Help!

Thank you so much to anyone who can give us advice.

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