Mother wins child support owed since 1970

Now 73, woman who raised daughter alone to get $150,000 after finding ex-husband.

Nearly 50 years after a judge awarded Toni Anderson child support, the now 73-year-old Carlsbad woman took her ex-husband back to court — and won her bid to force him to pay up. The settlement tally, including interest: $150,000.

Married in 1966, Toni Anderson and Don Lenhart split up a few years later. She was left to raise their young daughter.

In 1970, a Los Angeles judge awarded child support, money to be paid until daughter Lane Lenhart was 21. The order was $210 a month to start, then dropping to $160 a month.

Anderson said her ex-husband made an initial payment but the check bounced. Then he left the country, she said. She gave up on the money.

A single mother, Anderson went to work as an interior decorator, eventually running her own company. She said it was a “struggle beyond struggle for years and years,” and she worked “24/7.” Money was tight. So was the time she had to spend with her little girl.

But she made it work.

Last year, she had an epiphany: She was still owed child support, and knew California had no statute of limitations barring her from chasing the payment.

She Googled her ex, she said, and found that he was living in Oregon. She also dug up that old court order.

This year, after starting the process, a Vista Superior Court commissioner agreed last month to adopt the parties’ settlement agreement as an order of the court. 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.

Story Credit to Teri Figueroa of the San Diego Union-Tribune