Submitted May 15, 2017
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(DRB-1540-83) (Hon. Jennifer Di Toro, Motions Judge)
Frederic W. Schwartz, Jr. was on the brief for appellant.
McDowell, Stephanie Troyer, and Jonathan Levy were on the
brief for appellee.
Beckwith and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Nebeker, Senior
BECKWITH, ASSOCIATE JUDGE.
Freddie Massey was ordered to pay child support to his
ex-wife, appellant Carolyn Pope Massey, at the time of their
divorce in 1985. In 2014, Mr. Massey filed a motion to reduce
arrears, which the trial court granted upon concluding that
the statute of limitations barred the collection of the
outstanding arrears. Ms. Pope Massey appeals the judgment
vacating all of Mr. Massey's outstanding child support
arrears. We affirm.
Massey and Ms. Pope Massey married in 1969 and had four
children before divorcing in 1985. Mr. Massey, the defendant
in the divorce action, was ordered to pay $450 per month in
child support as part of the judgment of absolute divorce.
The parties' youngest child, Freddie Massey Jr.,
emancipated on his twenty-first birthday in October of 1999.
Mr. Massey remained in arrears, which totaled approximately
$49, 000 at the time of the judgment under review.
2007, the District of Columbia Child Support Services
Division intercepted Mr. Massey's federal tax refund in
partial satisfaction of the arrears. On May 17, 2007, Mr.
Massey, acting pro se, filed a motion to terminate the child
support order and all arrears on the grounds that he was
homeless and disabled and could not afford the payments. The
motion was denied without prejudice on January 22, 2008. In
2012, Mr. Massey began receiving Social Security Disability
Insurance (SSDI) benefits, which the government withheld in
part for child support. On December 3, 2012, Mr. Massey filed
another pro se motion to terminate his child support
obligations on the grounds of disability, unemployment, and
his need for his SSDI benefits. This motion was denied on
January 19, 2013.
8, 2014, Mr. Massey filed a third pro se motion to terminate
his child support obligations, which was largely identical to
the second motion with the addition of the handwritten
notation "stature [sic] of limitations Oct, 1999."
He subsequently obtained counsel from the Legal Aid Society
of the District of Columbia and filed a new motion to reduce
the arrears on statute-of-limitations grounds on October 21,
2014. At a hearing on May 6, 2015, the court heard argument
from Mr. Massey, Ms. Pope Massey, and an Assistant Attorney
General representing the District of Columbia. On May 13, the
court issued an order granting the motion and vacating all of
the arrears as time-barred due to the statute of limitations.
Ms. Pope Massey now challenges that order on appeal.
court orders a party to pay child support, those support
payments "constitute judgment debts as each installment
becomes due and payable." Mayo v. Mayo, 508
A.2d 114, 115 (D.C. 1986); see also Lomax v.
Spriggs, 404 A.2d 943, 948 (D.C. 1979) (holding that
"each periodic payment for support becomes a separate
money judgment as of the date of its accrual"). Such
judgments are enforceable for twelve years "from the
date when an execution might first be issued thereon, or from
the date of the last order of revival thereof." D.C.
Code § 15-101(a) (2012 Repl.). After the expiration of
those twelve years, "the judgment . . . shall cease to
have any operation or effect" and is no longer
enforceable "except in the case of a proceeding that may
be then pending for the enforcement of the judgment."
D.C. Code § 15-101(b).
Massey's final child support payment became due no later
than October 30, 1999, when his youngest child turned
twenty-one. See Butler v. Butler, 496 A.2d 621, 622
(D.C. 1985) ("Child support obligations in the District
of Columbia continue until age
twenty-one."). The trial court determined that by October
30, 2011-twelve years later-all of the judgment debts had
expired. Ms. Pope Massey challenges that ruling on four
grounds. Our review is de novo except where otherwise noted.
See Daniels v. Potomac Elec. Power Co., 100 A.3d
139, 142-43 (D.C. 2014).