Court Rule Clears Deadbeat Dad’s $110K Debt

Every week sheriffs’ deputies round up spouses who have failed to pay child support, but a select few have managed to avoid being arrested.

Richard Huffman is one of them.

After years of ignoring court orders and subpoenas, he disappeared for good, abandoning his wife and son and amassing such an enormous debt that he wound up on the sheriff’s office 10 most wanted child support scofflaw list.

“He’s never paid me a dime in over 11 years, and he’s in arrears of over $110,00,” Monica Bonaroti said.

She says family court recently sent her a form calling her ex-husband’s debt uncollectable. Even though she put a big “x” next to the line saying she disagreed, two months later she received a copy of a court order reducing his debt to zero.

“I thought the law was well, ‘If you can’t pay, you we’re going to get a job and assume the responsibly for this child,’ not let you off the hook.”

It’s called rule 1910 — instituted by the state Supreme Court to clean up a mountain of support orders which the court believes are unenforceable. Family court administrator Patrick Quinn say dunning notices are being sent to former spouses who are jobless, homeless or indigent.

Quinn says, “What happens is it’s a drain on the court system if you have literally thousand of cases that have no chance of ever collecting support for the foreseeable future.”

But Bonaroti says it’s the court’s job to seek justice.

“It’s a disgrace that a deadbeat dad who has not paid a dime of over $110,000 is being rewarded,” she said.

Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen, for one, agrees with Bonaroti. Mullen says because of the court order wiping out Huffman’s debt — he had to take Huffman off the most wanted list since he is no longer one of the top 10 deadbeats — and the general public will no longer be an aid in tracking him down.

“It’s our opinion here, and it’s always been our opinion that if you father children it’s your responsibility to take care of them financially.” Mullen said. “That did not happen here.”

To Quinn, it’s a matter of perception. He says the debt in these cases will remain zero until the spouse can be found and ability to pay can be established. There’s still a warrant out for Huffman’s arrest, and Quinn says the courts still want to bring him to justice.

“We’re not closing case. It’s still on the system. We’re tracking to see if we can find the person, find assets, find a bank account.”

Bonaroti has her point of view.

“I feel I worked enough over these 11 years and he just gets to walk away. It’s not right.”

  • Gladys

    That lady needs to realize that she married a LOSER and he has done a great job at avoiding the court by disappearing. The court are not magicians or private eyes. They can only do so much. And even if they catch up with him and finally bring him to court, he will either disappear again or just go to jail and she still won’t see a dime! Thus the reason for Rule 1910, to weed out the LOSERS who will never pay so the court can focus on the cases that ARE ENFORCEABLE. PLEASE follow up. I’ll bet she still NEVER sees a dime especially if another state tries to enforce becuase no other state enforces child support as good as PA!!!!!

  • Chrissy

    whats the sheriffs doing to arrest these guys? they haven’t arrested my babydaddy in 5 years and i call them all the time and they just say they cant catch him!!! i thinks andy should find out what the sheriff is doin bout that!!!
    even when they do catch em the judges just let them go so whats the point.

  • Jeff

    what about the increasing numbers of mothers who walk away from their children and never pay child supoort. The chances of a father getting child support seems even greater and it seems more and more fathers are the one taking care of the children. I think the rules should apply to both parents. It shouldn’t be dead beat dads, it should be dead beat parents! A parent can keep quitting jobs to avoid child support and get on welfare or social security and their child support goes to $0. This has been my experience. Someone needs to do a story on the mothers that walk away as well. Both genders should be held responsible.

  • Barry

    The law should work both ways.I live in Venango Co.Here they are biased toward women.I over paid $479 for 7 years,because I was on SSD,my daughter received that amount.It was to be decuted from my support amount,but never was.When I was made aware of it,I went to support court.I was told there “that’s water over the dam”.I also asked for the lump sum SSD amount my ex was awarded to be entered as income,because she never made Domestic relations aware of it.Support court said”too late”.This is the way they treat a good father in Venango Co.My daughter never goes without,I see to that.Whenever she needs something,I make sure she has it,while her motherbuys cigs,beer,and goes to the bars.Tried for coustody,but not here,I have no rights.

  • Where is the justice?

    It’s no longer a matter of money, it’s a matter of principle and taking responsibility as a parent. And Jeff you are correct; it is men and women alike. Gladys, you make a comment that no one handles child support better than PA. I beg to differ. I do live here, and I am a child support recipient, however I just started getting it a couple of months ago. My ex is thousands of dollars behind. However, the state of Indiana does arrest both dead beat dads and moms because there are both cases. It’s not always the man as the news always portrays. No state is perfect with their justice system. But I completely disagree with this “suspending” of child support under their conditions. And Barry, I do feel that if the whole situation is as bad as your making it out to be with your ex, there would be no reason for you not to get custody of your daughter. I would look into a new attorney.

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