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Massey v. Massey

Court of Appeals of The District of Columbia

June 20, 2019

Carolyn Pope MASSEY, Appellant,
v.
Freddie MASSEY, Appellee.

         Submitted May 15, 2017

Page 149

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 150

          Appeal 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.

         Ashley McDowell, Stephanie Troyer, and Jonathan Levy were on the brief for appellee.

         Before Beckwith and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Nebeker, Senior Judge.

          OPINION

         Beckwith, Associate Judge:

          Appellee 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.

          I.

          Mr. 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.

          In 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.

         On July 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. ...


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