Back in 1976, Kathi Smith-Petersen’s husband left her with two young girls and pregnant with another. Over the years, she raised her girls on her own, scrimping every step of the way to provide a normal childhood for her daughters while supporting them alone. She went through life choosing which bills to pay and stretching her small salary as far as she possibly could.
She never thought she’d see more than a few thousand dollars of the child support her ex-husband owed her, reports the Phoenix News. But that all changed this week when the Arizona Department of Economic Security workers asked her to come into the office to sign some papers.
Not knowing what the meeting was about, Kathi met with DES director Clarence Carter who told her his team had made finally contact with her ex-husband. He then presented her with a check for $93,639. She broke down and cried.
It turns out her ex-husband had an out-of-state bank account with more than $200,000 in it. A levy was placed on the account which forced the bank to surrender the money. Kathi’s ex-husband actually owed about $27,000 in child support, but the interest had accrued to about $67,000.
Although Kathi’s daughters are now adults, she’s sharing the money with them:
“They went without because it wasn’t there then, so why not? Now they can do something they want to do,” said Smith-Petersen.
I think Kathi and her daughters deserve every penny and then some. While it will never replace the tension and stress that they all had to endure while the kids were growing up, it might help provide a sense of security in their adult lives now. And Kathi, the parent who stayed and raised her girls alone day in and day out deserves a bit of financial peace for herself, after struggling for so long.
I hope this story will serve as a wake-up call to deadbeat dads everywhere. If you don’t want kids and aren’t willing to help raise them, don’t have them. This wasn’t some new relationship where an accidental pregnancy occurred; it was a committed marriage. The ex deserves, at the very least, to have his bank account halved. Money might help the daughters with little things now but sadly, it will never make up for them having to grow up without a father.
For more on child support and marriage, read “The WSJ Asks, Would Ending Child Support Make Marriages Last Longer?”
Bad Parent: Why I’m Not Paying for My Kids’ College
Read Danielle’s blog Just Write Mom.