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Mom Gets $93,000 In Back Child Support, Good For Her

By Danielle Sullivan |

child support, father abandoned family, child support payments, absent father, divorce child support

Kathi-Smith Peterson could not believe she was given a check for nearly 30 years' worth of back child support.

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.

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About Danielle Sullivan


Danielle Sullivan

Danielle Sullivan writes for Babble Pets. She is also an award-winning parenting writer, who authors a monthly column for NY Parenting and ASPCA Parents blog. You can read more of her work at her blog,Some Puppy To Love. Read bio and latest posts → Read Danielle's latest posts →

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15 thoughts on “Mom Gets $93,000 In Back Child Support, Good For Her

  1. carolyncastiglia says:

    I’m so happy for these ladies!

  2. goddess says:

    Fabulous story!

  3. LogicalMama says:

    It is great they got this money, but with three kids and the last 35 years, it seems so little!

  4. Jen says:

    Great story! What a pathetic worm of a man (sorry he’s your sperm donor girls).

  5. Rosana says:

    OMG!!! That is awesome!!

  6. biff says:

    I’m a feminist and have the same reflex as the above comments to judge the father negatively. At the same time, fathers’ voices are not honored by the system. The mom of the children continues to make the decisions, and the father has to cooperate whether or not he agrees. It makes the fathers feel like milk-cows, and then they resist the financial tractor beam. It’s stupid and emotionally underdeveloped of them, but it needs addressing above and beyond crushing them to the financial will of the children’s mothers, perpetuating what was already a broken dynamic leading to their split. The process just needs better facilitation, both parties are hurting badly but then the dad has to pay up according to what the mom says.

  7. Miss Chris says:

    Biff, the attitude you display shows exactly the trouble with many parents who fail to support their children. Many a Father in this situation concludes that the mother of his children has become greedy and bossy and is trying to suck him dry and that she has unfair decision making power, this is bunk.

    “Dad has to pay up according to what the mom says” is incorrect and infuriating, actually Dad/non-custodial parent has to support his children at a level which the court/mediators/lawyers/parents agree is fair and adequate. I’ve seen this dynamic first hand with my own parents and in many families I’ve known. After the divorce the non-custodial parent will take out their pain and anger by withholding financial support (sometimes along with emotional support and availability) from the only innocent members of the family, the children. Some think they’re making a point with their ex-partner, but the ones who really suffer are the kids.

  8. carolyncastiglia says:

    Miss Chris, if you were Mr. Chris I’d marry you. And I don’t believe in marriage anymore after my divorce!

  9. knoxy says:

    Um, the dad doesn’t have to pay up based on what the “mom says.” He has to pay up based on what the LAW states.

    The laws are there for a reason. This person could clearly afford to support the child he fathered – and didn’t. That’s illegal.

    Yes, the courts are often biased towards mothers – and yes, that isn’t right in a case where a father is involved and doing EVERYTHING he can for his children. But this isn’t one of those cases. Making a comparison is idiotic at best.

    Feminist? Try humanist.

  10. Bunnytwenty says:

    What Miss Chris said. On what basis does someone espousing anti-female propaganda call herself a “feminist”? With friends like this, who needs enemies…

  11. Danielle Sullivan says:

    No parent, mother or father has the right to leave their children and not provide for them. No matter how bad the relationship is with your ex, when you leave him/her with no support and no parental involvement, you are permanently damaging your kids.

  12. Miss Chris says:

    Carolyn, I’m terribly flattered. Were I Mr. Chris and not already married, I would certainly consider it. ;)

  13. NoMoreMarxistsInDC says:

    Amazing how quick everyone is to demonize all fathers because of a few “bad eggs”. A major university study spread out over 7 years found that less than 5 percent of non-payors are true “deadbeat dads”–the ones with the trophy wives and the expensive sports cars that doesn’t pay one dime. According to the US gov’t, over 66% of fathers cannot pay due to unemployment (in what has been called by the NY Times the current “Mancession” because over 80% of those unemployed are men), underemployment, disability, even death, or the mother didn’t want the support because she was either wealthy herself, the father molested the child, the father was abusive, or for any other reasons.

    One thing is for certain: After reading this article men will be more hesitant to use banks to keep their money in. The US Supreme Court held that by using the services of banks, you lose all expectation of privacy.

  14. biff says:

    Please know my perspective; I’m no less angry at loser-dads than anyone else. I think the case for this story should have been adjudicated MORE harshly on this father, not LESS. I’m an extremely involved and happily married dad, and I resent that my taxes are wasted on legal procedures that need not occur were people just able manage their adult partnerships. In general, the male half of the population is failing us and it upsets me greatly, especially when parents fail their kids. I think the responses about my attitude and so on don’t address my point about the SYSTEM, though, which Miss Chris teed up perfectly: “Dad/non-custodial parent has to support his children at a level which the court/mediators/lawyers/parents agree is fair and adequate.” The problem here is that the mother is the default custodial voice, joint or sole, and the father’s voice is taken out of dialogue and reduced to a financial one. It’s shut up and pay according to what someone else is saying is fair and adequate, or quit; a lose-lose situation. Emotionally stunted people are going to quit for lack of stamina to find a way to establish a collaborative voice and fail out every time.

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