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Dad arrested after 20 years, owing $560,000 in child support

North Dakota's proximity to Canada may tempt those owing child support in the state to cross the border in the hopes of avoiding payment. The recent arrest of a United States citizen who had lived in Calgary for 20 years and failed to pay $560,000 in child support may serve as an important object lesson for anyone considering moving to Canada to escape making these payments.

The man was ordered to pay $100 per month for his four children when he was divorced from their mother in 1989. The amount was eventually lowered to $14 after he claimed to be unemployed and medically disabled. In 1996, a United States court received evidence that the man had sold a successful internet company for $2 million. The support order was modified accordingly, but the man stopped paying support entirely in 1996. A warrant for his arrest was issued in 1998.

After apparently living in Canada for 20 years, the man was discovered because he apparently attempted to convert a maraschino cherry pit into damages for a broken tooth. The man was in a bar that he frequented when he ordered a Cherry Coke with 8 maraschino cherries. A few moments later, he told his server that he had broken his tooth on a pit from one of the cherries. The manager was immediately suspicious because maraschino cherries do not have pits. The manager performed an internet search on the man and soon discovered that he topped the list of deadbeat dads kept by the Canadian Office of the Inspector General. The man was soon arrested and returned to the United States for trial. He is currently in custody in Detroit - apparently the city where the original support order was issued.

If child support obligations become onerous because the financial conditions of the party have changed unexpectedly, the best course of action is to retain an experienced divorce attorney to bring a motion to revise the support order. As this case demonstrates, the accessibility of information on the internet makes a successful escape very unlikely.

Source: Newsweek, "'Deadbeat' Dad Owes $560,000 in Child Support, Arrested After 20 Years," Ewan Palmer, Feb. 23, 2018

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