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Concealment of a Child- Effects on Child Support


A custodial parent’s active concealment of a child may justify some relief to the support obligor. Although such concealment does not affect the underlying mutual duty of support of the parents, it may estop the custodial parent from recovering unsatisfied child support arrearages.  Marriage of Damico (1994) 7 C4th 673. Child support payments cannot be made to a person who cannot be found and has chosen to go into hiding with the parties’ child.  But for the estoppel defense to be successfully asserted, a noncustodial parent must be able to show that he or she made reasonable diligent efforts to locate the missing custodial parent and children. The defense can last until the child reaches the age of majority.

If a noncustodial parent later locates the child and the other parent, the prior concealment will not affect the noncustodial parents continuing obligation for child support, although the estoppel defense may bar enforcement of prior arrearages accruing during the period of active concealment.  The act of concealment operates only as a prospective waiver of child support pending the noncustodial parents locating the child.

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