Eugene man pays more than $150K in child support after 49 years

In California law, there is no statute of limitations on child support cases like there is in Oregon.

Posted: Mar 26, 2019 6:18 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A Eugene man paid child support 49 years later after his ex-wife filed a case in a California court.

Toni Anderson and Donald Lenhart divorced back in the 1970s. Even though Anderson is now 74 and her daughter is 52, because there is no statute of limitations on child support cases in California, she was able to get the money she was owed.

Lenhart had to pay $153,090. Anderson said if Lenhart had made his child support payments on time, he would have had to pay $210 per month for a period of 30 months and then $160 a month until their child turned 21.

Lenhart declined an interview to KEZI, but in a statement released to ABC News, he said: “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.”

Erin Fennerty, an attorney at Luvaas Cobb in Eugene, said Oregon law is different than California law. She said currently child support judgments do not expire until 35 years after they are first established. 

However, she said that does not apply to some older cases because Oregon law changed in 2010.

"I think we as a society have a vested interest in making sure all of our children are taken care of and that parents, all parents, have an interest, a vested interest in taking care of their children,” Fennerty said.

Anderson said she hopes her case will make others who owe child support come forward and pay.

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