Toni Anderson, a retired Californian resident, is set to receive child support from her estranged ex-husband, Donald Lenhart, who fled to Canada 50 years ago when he was ordered to pay $160 in child support each month. Anderson realized that there was no geographical limitation on parental responsibility, so she decided to pursue the matter legally. Lenhart’s lawyers successfully negotiated the penalty in a private hearing, and he will now pay Anderson the sum owed.
Anderson raised her daughter, Lena Lenhart, as a single mother and sent her to Paris for college, inspiring her to take up interior design at the same firm where Anderson worked before retiring. After years of striving to provide the very best for her daughter, Anderson admits that the money has simply run out. Fifty years of negligence has turned $160 installments into a scary sum of $170,000.
Anderson feels strongly that other single parents facing a similar predicament should pursue their deadbeat spouses and collect what is rightfully theirs. She is happy that her ex-husband is now feeling the heat she’s had to deal with for the last 50 years.
Anderson’s case might set a precedent for similar cases in the future, considering that only 61% of men honored their child support settlements, according to a 2011 survey published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. It should also be noted that close to a similar percentage of women not living with their children paid their child support.
It’s a federal offense to fail to pay your child support payments, with penalties including hefty fines and potential jail time depending on the period of negligence and the amount owed. Mr. Lenhart’s case is an example of a felony because he fled the country for over two years to avoid payment.