August 21, 2019

Interview with Family Lawyer Monica Hanrahan Freitag – Part 3

This is the third and final installment of my interview with Atlanta based domestic relations lawyer Monica Hanrahan Freitag of the law firm Hanrahan Freitag.  In this audio segment, Monica and I discuss the special issues that arise when the custodial and non-custodial parents live in different states and Social Security is involved.  A question I get frequently –  how can a custodial parent find out if a non-custodial parent has applied for benefits and if auxiliary benefits are forthcoming.



About

Jonathan Ginsberg practices Social Security disability law in Atlanta, Georgia.  He represents clients in claims before the Social Security Administration.

Comments

  1. LaVerne Cartee says:

    MY BOTTOM LINE QUESTON IS: WOULDN’T MY SON HAVE RECEIVED AND BEEN ALLOWED TO KEEP THE LUMP SUM PAYMENT FROM SSDI IF HIS FATHER HAD BEEN CURRENT WITH CHILD SUPOPRT?

    I have had a different situation in NC than I’ve read about. My son’s father disappeared for almost 10 years to avoid child support, when his own father died, no one in his family knew how to contact him so that he could attend the funeral.

    His child support obligation had been established by ESC in 1997 @ $387 per month. He had a good job where he had worked since approximately 1971, he was fired around 1998. In January 2005, I asked that his amount be REDUCED to $175 per month in hopes that he would inquire at ESC and not feel so overwhelmed by the increasing amount. (I’d rather get something than nothing.) I had inquired at CSE about reducing the support amount several months earlier and was told that he (the father) would need to be the one asking for a reduction.

    Within a couple of months of my asking for a reduction on his behalf (he had been gone about 5 years) he was arrested in SC and paid about 7 thousand dollars over an 18 month period.

    Fearing spending time in jail again, he contacted me in March 2008 asking that I attend a scheduled hearing in SC where he promised the judge that he would pay $500 immediately and $100 per week thereafter until all arrears were paid. (approximately $25,000 had accrued by that time) He paid $1000 in a 3 month period then filed for SSDI.

    I found out in June 2010 that he had been approved for SSDI and was told by ESC to file for my son to receive benefits. He is now 16. A few weeks later I received a lump sum payment for June 2008 thru June 2010, and also will be receiving a monthly check on my son’s behalf until he is 18.

    My thoughts on all this;

    My son’s father willfully accrued arrears for many years

    A SC Family Court Judge allowed my son’s father to keep most of his lump sum payment for himself, and ruled that the lump sum my son received would go toward his father’s arrears….his willful arrears which accrued while he was in hiding for many years.

    I’m not unreasonable, I can understand the child support not being paid for the 2 years while SSDI was being pursued (which amounted to $4200) My request for child support reduction in 2005 saved him at least $10,000 in accrued arrears.

    The Family Court Judge in SC also said that $100 per month would be taken from my son’s father‘s SSDI check for arrears until they were paid up….which was ridiculous because the man received at least a $40,000 lump sum check!!

    I told the judge that my son had recently had to have braces, is learning disabled needs tutoring (he has been retained for 2 years and will be 20 when he graduates from high school) and only since receiving the lump sum I had been able to see that these things were taken care of for my son.

    She smiled as though she had done my son a favor and reminded his father that “he has a special needs child”. This man has NEVER HELPED send his son to camp, sent a birthday card nor a present in all these years!

    The judge was new, didn’t know where to find exactly what the arrearages were, and told me she “knew” the law! If she did know the law in this situation, she didn’t share the law with me.
    I know it is too late to “fix” this for my son, but I want to help make sure this doesn’t happen to another child and mother.
    I want to write letters to as many people as possible to get this story out, I’m sure we aren’t the only ones this has happened to.
    I would appreciate any advice about who to send letters to in North Carolina, South Carolina or any other official who might be able to help change things.

    Sincerely,
    LaVerne Cartee

  2. LaVerne Cartee says:

    When I looked back, I realized I put wrong initials in a few places….it should be CSE instead of ESC….big difference:)
    Sorry about that.

    Sincerely
    LaVerne

  3. I’M SOCIAL SECURITY DISABLED AND MY EX GETS MY CHILDS BENFITS 319.00 A MONTH. I LIVE IN ILLINOIS AND MY QUESTION IS AM I RESPOSIBLE FOR MEDICAL EVEN THOUGH SHE HAS INSURANCE ON HIM? IF SO, HOW DO I PAY FOR IT WHEN I ONLY GET 1278 A MONTH IN SS? HELP PLEASE

  4. If back child support is owed on child over 18 will it be deducted from ssdi? Especially kids over 30.

  5. MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ says:

    MY EX WIFE HAS REMARRIED,WE HAVE 2 CHILDREN,6,3,WE WERE SEPARATED ALMOST 2 YEARS,OUR DIVORCE WAS FINAL IN MAY,SHE REMARRIED MAY.SHE RECIEVES FROM ME 604.00 PER MONTH,i HAD LOST MY JOB,FOR ABOUT 1 MONTH,I GOT A JOB RIGHT AWAY,SO I OWE HER CURRENTLY 571.00 TO BE PAID BY END OF THIS MONTH.WE JUST WHEN TO COURT FOR HER ARREARS 571.00 SHE HAD BEEN LIVING WITH HER PARENTS,RENT FREE,GETTING FOOD STAMPS,CHIPS FOR MEDICAL FOR THE KIDS,NOW SHE IS MARRIED DROPPED THE CHIPS FOR THE KIDS ,I HAVE TO WAIT 90 DAYS TO PUT ON MY INSURANCE,BUT HER REASON IS HER HUSBAND WILL NOT ALLOW HER TO GIVE OUT HIS INCOME INFORMATION,OUR UNDERSTANDING IS HE MAKES GOOD MONEY AND THEN SHE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED CERTAIN GOVERMENT PROGRAMS BUT WE FEEL WHEN YOU GET MARRIED YOUR HUSBANDS INCOME IS PART OF HOUSEHOLD INCOME BUT SHE HAS NOT EVEN CHANGED HER NAME,SHE KEPT MY LAST NAME. SHOULD I PUT IN FOR A MODERFICATION I AM STRUGGLE TO MAKES END MEET WE SOLD OUR HOME SHE GOT 60 I GOT 40,SHE KEPT OUR VAN,BASICALLY I HAD MORE MONEY LEFT TO FIGHT WITH A LAWYER ANYMORE I SPENT ALOT OF MONEY ON ATTORNEYS THAT I AM NOW PAYING FAMILY MEMBERS BACK,SO THINGS ARE TIGHT RIGHT NOW FOR ME.i AM GREATFUL FOR MY FAMILY WHO HAVE BEEN THER FOR ME,BUT SHE KEEPS ME TIED UP IN COURT AND I JUST GOT THIS NEW JOB I AM SO TIRED OF IT .DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS THANK YOU MIKE

  6. Hi, Here’s my question I’m hoping to get an answer to.
    I have been on SSDI since 7/2004. Since 5/2001 I have been paying Child Support being the non-custodial parent.
    In 3/2005 My ex filed for Auxiliary payments through Social Security pertaining to my disability, where my son started to receive $527 per month.
    My ex moved around to 5 different states, where she opened up Child support cases in each state. At any time did she mention that my son was receiving auxiliary payments from Social Security. By her not properly disclosing her income, did she commit fraud?
    Am I entitled to receiving those child support payments that I made over the course of the last 5 years?
    Please understand that I am not her to hurt my son. If I had assurance the money would go directly to him, I would send more. I love him very much and we really have a good relationship over the phone, since she lives out of state. The toys I have sent him though, she ends up pawning them or returning them to Walmart to support her other children, which are not mine. So I hear him crying his eyes out and it tears me up inside that I can’t do more or control the situation. It’s driving me crazy!
    Yes, I am frustrated because she uses my son as a tool to hurt me. I just want him to have a great upbringing and to be happy.
    Paternity has been established and I know I have to get to the county that he resides in to establish a parenting plan. But, again I am disabled, live 1200 miles away, and feel helpless financially and physically.
    I appreciate your feedback and thank you in advanced.

    Tim

  7. Other side of the coin here — my ex-wife has always taken advantage of me and my willingness to do my best to provide for my children despite her best efforts to keep them from me while getting as many people as possible to believe that I’m more like your ex.

    I had my child support obligations paid up when my SSDI claim, which I fought for three years to win, was finally approved, and my ex continued to pursue claims for child support so that I had to go to court to stop having to continue duplicating the payments. I’m still fighting to try to recover the overpayment.

    Your ability to right the wrong done to your son may have ended, but he may still be able to pursue it. Both the child support his father owed and his SSDI benefits paid resulting from his father’s disability are his, and in most states the statute for him to be able to sue his father doesn’t begin to run until he turns 18.

    He should check into it.

  8. @Tim: Social Security will not get involved in child support cases at the state level. Whomever the children reside with is entitled to receive the children’s SSDI entitlement, and your ex is not committing fraud by accepting the children’s SSDI as long as she is honest with Social Security about being entitled to collect your son’s SSDI.

    Whether or not your ex committed fraud in collecting against the child support order without disclosing the fact that she was receiving SSDI for your son against your SSDI benefits is a matter of law in each of the states in which she did that. In all likelihood, she did in fact commit fraud in each of those states, and you are entitled to repayment of duplicated child support. You may also have criminal cases against her in each of those states.

    If it were me, I’d try to file criminal complaints for fraud in the states (and counties) where she has done this and then as soon as the charges were filed, I’d get an attorney where I already lived to sue for recovery and custody of my son. You do not necessarily have to move to the county where she now lives to do anything, especially if she has a history of moving around and if you still reside in the same county (or at least in the same state) where paternity was established.

    More men need to stand up for their rights and for their children’s rights when things like this happen. You need to be one of those men.

  9. @RICHARD: Richard, My ex has been putting me through the ringer since 2004, and I’ve had about enough. I and my children have also been collecting SSDI since May 2008, and my ex insists on trying to get more and more out of me personally.

    In every state of which I am aware the non-custodial parent is responsible to pay health insurance premiums for the children as well as 50% of all non-covered health expenses for the children regardless of income unless the court determines that there is a hardship reason to remove this responsibility. This doesn’t give your ex carte blanc to select insurance and make you pay for it; she has to work with you on what choices you have as far as coverage for the children, and the final decision as to which policy you pay for should be yours, bearing in mind that you will both be paying your share of out-of-pocket expenses. If you cannot afford to pay insurance and your ex has income sufficient to afford this, then you do have the option to go before a judge and plead your case. The law in almost all states allows for exceptions in cases of financial hardship where the custodial parent has greater means to support the children, but it is the judge’s (or jury’s) decision. I hope you get sympathetic one.

  10. @MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ: Hi Mike, I’m only answering your question for the benefit of others who may read this string at some point because I’m certain you’ve already learned everything I’m about to post.

    To clarify, you said that you owed her $571.00 out of $604.00 for one month of child support because you were unemployed for a few weeks and that she immediately filed a case to pursue you for the arrears (which didn’t actually exist yet because one month hadn’t lapsed, but we’ll get to that). She is remarrying and dropping the children’s CHIP coverage (probably due to changes household income), and you think her new husband’s income should count, while you must wait 90 days to put the children on your insurance for your new job and you want to know if your should request a reduction in your support requirement because you are suffering from financial hardship.

    Here are my best answers:

    You ex made a big mistake by filing so quickly. She made herself appear greedy and selfish, more likely concerned about herself and her new husband than her own children. Any decent judge will see that without you pointing it out, so don’t point it out. If you try to point it out, you’ll just end up looking as petty and selfish as her.

    You have the advantage. If your income from your new job is low enough that the normal application of your state’s legal guidelines for child support for your two children will lower your monthly payments, then you should definitely file a counterclaim to lower you monthly obligation. In the meantime, do whatever it takes to get your child support obligations paid in full so that when you get to court you have no arrears on the books. Put yourself on the morale high ground, and then keep your mouth shut.

    As to the fact that she chose to live with her parents until remarrying. You may actually want to be thankful for that because you have a three-year-old. In many sates, the legal guidelines allow for the courts to keep the custodial parent (typically the mother) at home with the children until the youngest reaches school age, justifying the court in awarding higher than normal child support and alimony not to mention job retraining allowances, money for school or college — the list goes on. The short answer here is that her husband’s income is none of your business.

    As to the insurance, she may not have a choice in dropping the CHIP coverage. The CHIP coverage for the children has to go away the month after she and the children move into his home. If she gets the children covered under her new husband’s insurance and you have them covered under your insurance through your work, you are very likely NOT responsible to pay for any premiums that result from her decision to place the children on a second policy even if your children had a three-month waiting period for your insurance because she knew that your insurance was pending, and something could have been worked out to keep the children on CHIP for a few months. However, if she does elect to pay for a second insurance policy on her own, then she is obligated to provide you with the insurance information for your use when you have the children just as you are obligated to provide her with the children’s insurance information that you provide for them.

    Mike, it does sound to me like, no matter where things started, there is sniping coming from your side too. If you’re really tired of fighting, you need to nip this in the bud. And you definitely need to make sure you never bring the children into the middle of things, even if she does.

  11. CroShayLady says:

    @Mike:

    Either you are talking about a 30 year old child who is disabled or child support arrears that have accumulated. If you have a child support order filed with an enforcement agency that agency will send and order to withhold for child support and/or child support arrears.
    They can attach from SSD but not from SSI.

  12. I have a couple of questions. My ex husband just found out he was approved for SSD. Now I have 2 children ages 14 & 16. He owes me $57,000 in arears and I was wondering how much of his lump sum do they usually take out for past child support. Also I have a interview on Wed for Auxillary benifits for my children, will they get a back pay from the time he filed in Aug 2007, when he was just approved July 26th 2011.

    I haven’t recieved any support since he hurt himself at work in 4 yrs, besides about 300 a yr to stay out of jail. which his mother paid for him. So I want to know if my kids are entiltled to back pay just like he is.. Thanks

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