A 74-year-old American woman recently made headlines after reportedly receiving $150,000 in child support that had been owed to her for 50 years.

A short relationship

Tori Anderson and Don Lenhert were married in 1966. The marriage lasted for only two years, with the couple splitting in 1968. A divorce hearing was held in mid-1970. Coming out of that hearing was an order for Lenhert to pay child support for the couple’s then three-year old child until she reached the age of 18.

Lenhert didn’t make a single payment, leaving the United States for Canada where he started a family with another woman. During this time Anderson told CNN she lived “paycheck to paycheck” raising their daughter alone.

A valuable realization

In 2018 Anderson learned California has no statute of limitations for child support payments. CNN reported she then looked her ex-husband up online and discovered he was living what seemed to be a comfortable live in the US Pacific Northwest. She filed a motion with the court to allow her to pursue the unpaid support. The judge granted her request, and Lenhert’s lawyers reached an agreement with Anderson to pay her the $30,000 in principal he owed as well as $120,000 in interest, bring the total payment to $150,000.

Anderson hopes to encourage more parents to come forward

Anderson’s lawyer told CNN “I hope Toni’s case encourages other single parents to go after their ex and hold them accountable, whether it’s been five years or 50 years.” Meanwhile Anderson said she noticed a ripple effect following her story and that she was hoping to see more.

Could this happen in Canada?

Whether or not this could happen in Canada depends on the situation. The Supreme Court of Canada issued a decision in 2006 which serves as the leading case for child support in Canada, including retroactive child support. At a high level, a parent could be successful on a claim for outstanding child support that had already been subject to a separation agreement or court order. However, if the retroactive claim is the first claim made for support, then the court ruled the parent would not be eligible to pay child support if the child had become an independent adult. Of course, these matters are never black and white issues, and the courts can deal with them on a case-by-case basis while considering relevant factors such as disclosures made, previous attempts to enforce orders, etc.

Navigating issues of child support can be difficult, especially for those inexperienced in the process. The excellent team of lawyers at Borden Family Law focus exclusively on family law and have worked on over 4,000 cases. We are efficient and effective in finding solutions to our clients’ problems, and work tirelessly to protect their interests while also keeping costs down through flat fees. Please call us at 905-576-6090 or reach us online if you have a family law issue you would like to discuss.