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Court denies request to collect way past-due child support

The high court in another state has rejected a request from a woman who wanted to collect delinquent child support payments -- some of which dated back more than 40 years. The court sided with the woman's ex-husband, who cited that the state's 20-year statute of limitations protected him from collection. In Illinois, the statute of limitation on child support is much shorter, typically two years, making such cases almost unheard of here.

The couple was divorced in 1966, and their settlement stipulated that the man would pay his former spouse a sum of $30 each week until the youngest of their three children turned 18. That last birthday was in 1982. The man never paid the owed amounts, and his ex-wife finally asked the state to enforce the order. She had remarried by that time.

Her request did not reach the circuit court until 2008. By that time, the man argued, the statute of limitation had passed.

The circuit court disagreed, saying that the statute of limitation could not be used to protect the man from delinquent child support payments or related interest. The man appealed the decision, but the court of appeals upheld the ruling.

The man appealed again, this time to the state's Supreme Court. The Court overturned the lower court's decisions. In the opinion, the majority confirmed that child support is indeed subject to the statute of limitation, and that a missed payment cannot be collected once that statute has run.

The court added that the statute would not have applied if the woman had obtained a statutorily authorized extension.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Woman Can't Collect Ancient Child Support," Jeff D. Gorman, Nov. 10, 2011

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