CARLSBAD — Nearly 50 years after a judge awarded Toni Anderson child support, the now 73-year-old Carlsbad woman took her ex-husband to court and won her bid to force him to pay up to the tune of $150,000, it was reported today.
Anderson married Don Lenhart in 1966, but the couple split up a few years later and she was left to raise their young daughter, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
In 1970, a Los Angeles judge awarded child support, money to be paid until their daughter Lane Lenhart was 21, according to the Union-Tribune. The order was $210 a month to start, then dropping to $160 a month.
Anderson’s ex-husband made an initial payment, but the check bounced and he left the country, Anderson told the newspaper.
She went to work as an interior decorator and eventually ran her own company.
A few years ago, Anderson handed her business over to her daughter — also an interior decorator — and moved south to Carlsbad in 2015, according to the Union-Tribune.
Last year, she realized she was still owed child support and she knew California had no statute of limitations barring her from attempting to collect the payment, the Union-Tribune reported.
She discovered her ex-husband was living in Oregon, dug up the old court order and headed to the Vista courthouse, where Department of Child Support Services workers welcomed her, Anderson told the newspaper.
Earlier this year, she found and hired San Diego family law attorney Sara Yunus, who told Anderson that she was still entitled to the payment, the Union-Tribune reported.
A Vista Superior Court commissioner agreed last week to adopt the parties’ settlement agreement as an order of the court.
With interest and attorney’s fees, a child-support bill that would have cost around $35,000 decades ago rose to over four times the original amount, according to the Union-Tribune.
Yunus told the newspaper the case settled for $150,000, to be paid in part with a large initial sum and the rest paid over the next year and a half.
Don Lenhart issued a statement through his lawyer, saying that he “was glad to pay Ms. Anderson the child support that was owed and I wish her only the best in the future.”
“We had an informal agreement that I was operating off of after our divorce, but when Ms. Anderson filed her motion in 2018 to collect the $35,000 in principal plus interest, I hired a private investigator to locate her so I could offer her payment,” Lenhart said. “I am pleased we were able to reach an agreement.”
These days, Anderson receives Social Security payments, works part-time at a Carlsbad store and drives a 17-year-old car, according to the Union-Tribune.
She told the newspaper she has no plans to spend the long overdue child support money just yet because she’s putting it away for the future.