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Can I sue for back child support/Deformation of character and emotional distress?

Chicopee, MA |

I just turned 26 and My dad hasn't paid child support/been in my life since I was 13. He claims that since he "still" had custody of me that he didn't have to pay it. EVEN though I was living in a different state with my mother until the time I was 18. He paid nothing and gave my mother no help I know that in mass the law is that a parent has to pay at least until they are 23 while they are in school which I was and from that time mean while when I stayed with him off an on I get bullied by him and he just keeps threatening me. I've become a nercous wreck depressed angry all do to his badgering every day.

IMPORTANT TO READ!!!! Additional Information MY MOTHER HAS DIED. She died 5 years ago at the age 37, Dad is on disablitiy. My age without living with him is 13-25. I need to prove that the emotional damages and deformation of character caused my depression and mental illness.

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Attorney answers 4


I am sorry that you have suffered in this way, but I don't think you have legal grounds to sue your father. Child support payments, if due at all, would have been owed to your mother or your guardian. I don't know of any precedent for suing a parent for defamation or emotional distress under these circumstances. But, if your father continues to threaten you in certain ways, that could be a criminal offense and you certainly could file a complaint for a restraining order. You can consult a family law attorney for more information. Good luck!

Gary S. Sinclair is an attorney licensed to practice in Massachusetts and can be reached at 978-887-1006. All answers are based on Massachusetts law or a simple reading of the law in your jurisdiction. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to your question. The information provided should NOT be relied upon for making legal decisions. You will be best served by hiring an attorney in your area who specializes in the field of law pertinent to your question.


Like my colleague, I am sorry that you are going through this. As my colleague mentioned, any action here for past due child support needs to be brought by your mother and not you. If there is an order/judgment that requires your father to pay child support, then your father has no defense for not paying child support. If your father had a child support obligation, then your mother should immediately file a contempt action against your father for not complying with order and should seek all past due child support amounts. At this point, the court will not find any arguments by your father that he could not afford to pay child support convincing as he should have sought a modification of his support obligations at an earlier time to reduce his support obligation to an amount consistent with his reduced financial ability. These child support enforcement measures should be filed in the state where the child support order was originally created and your mother should consult an attorney in that state.

If you have been physically abused in the past and have reason to believe that your father's threats may lead to further physical abuse, then I would consider filing a restraining order in the state that you live in. If it is Massachusetts, you should speak to a Massachusetts family law attorney regarding filing a 209a restraining order.

Lastly, if your defamation of character and emotional distress are related by your father's lack of paying child support, your actions will likely be dismissed as the court has other remedies to enforce its judgment. As you do not state in your question any information that would support a defamation of character or emotional distress action, these actions would need to be supported by other facts. If you think that these facts exist, then you should speak to a lawyer who handles such actions (torts).

The content of this answer should not be relied upon or used as a subsitute for consultation with professional advisors and it should be clearly understood that no attorney-client privilege has been created. A more complete answer and/or more accurate answer can only be provided in a more thorough examination of the facts in a consultation with my firm.

Todd Allen Davidson

Todd Allen Davidson


I apologize for missing the additional information about your mother passing away. The action will need to undertaken by a representative for your mother.


That is nonsense

Unless he is a guardian, you have custody of yourself, and if he is
threatening you with physical harm, get a restraining order.


As to back child support, that is an issue for your mother which she
needs to consult an attorney.

henry lebensbaum, esq.

300 Brickstone Square, Ste 201

Andover, ma 01810

(978) 749-3606

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Her mother is dead


I am sorry for this obviously difficult situation. First, is there even a child support order? While your question is ambiguous, I am under the impression that there never, in fact, was a child support order. Second, even if there was an order, the money would have been owed to your mother, who has sadly passed away. As a former child support attorney for the Commonwealth, I know of know precedent or case where a child has successfully gone after a parent for child support.

Child support is not intended to be paid to the child; rather, it is intended to "support" the custodial parent with the expenses of raising said child.

I wish you luck.



or in most cases support the new leach of a boyfriend, the mother's pot habit, or the mother's partying expenses