No Arrears for Mom Who Hid Kids, Now Grown

     (CN) – A California woman cannot collect child support on the adult children whom she hid from their father for 15 years, a state appeals court ruled.
     Vladixa Boswell divorced her husband, John, in 1985. At the time, their daughter, Denise, was 5 years old, and their son, John Jr., was 3.
     John was ordered to pay $70 per month in support for each child. He did so, until Vladixa and the kids disappeared two months later.
     She moved out of California, changed the kids’ names and concealed their new address from John.
     After Denise became an adult, Vladixa returned 16-year-old John Jr. to his father in 1998.
     Fifteen years later, when the children were more than 30 years old, Vladixa sued John for $92,735 in child support.
     A judge in Ventura County ruled for John, and the Los Angeles-based California Court of Appeals affirmed last week.
     The seven-page ruling discusses Vladixa;s “unclean hands” and says this case was “terribly egregious.”
     “Mother contends that the trial court erroneously did not credit her factual showing of why father did not see his children for 15 years,” Justice Kenneth Yegan wrote for a three-judge panel. “This is folly.”
     It was erroneous, however, for the trial court to find that there was a laches bar, i.e. that Vladixa had waited too long to enforce a child-support arrearage order, the appellate court found.
     The defense of laches applies only when the child support is owed to the state, according to the ruling.
     “Although the appeal is frivolous, we elect not to impose sanctions because mother believes, and apparently prosecuted this appeal, because of the trial court’s ruling on laches,” Yegan wrote. “That is the only thing that saves her and her attorney from a sanction order.”

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