Home School Legal Defense Association was able to play Saint Nicholas for one of our members this Christmas, getting her child support benefits restored just before the end of 2020.
Our member is a single mother who has homeschooled her son for most of his educational career. Although she used to live in North Carolina, long ago, she forsook those southern shores for the less balmy climate of Maine. However, the court document ordering child support is still governed by Wayne County (North Carolina) Child Support Enforcement.
And Wayne County did its job well for years, making sure that the money was collected and distributed properly. But apparently the Grinch got involved last year. Or maybe it was because the year was 2020. Who knows?
Still in School
In any case, our member received a request in June 2020 to verify that her son was still enrolled in school, since he would soon be turning 18. These requests are routine, since many child support orders expire at the 18th birthday unless the child is in school or is otherwise still dependent.
The mother immediately sent proof that her son was still being homeschooled and wouldn’t graduate until June 2021. Being wise to the vagaries of life (especially in 2020), she sent it certified mail, return receipt requested, and duly received confirmation that it had been delivered July 6.
But three days before Thanksgiving, the 2020 Grinch struck. The mailman delivered a court order from Wayne County terminating child support because the child “is over eighteen years old and is no longer in high school.”
A Question of Validation
Thunderstruck, the mother called Wayne County. The worker that she talked to verified that the homeschool documentation had been received but that said benefits were being cut off because he wasn’t in public school, and that North Carolina didn’t recognize homeschooling as a valid school for child support.
HSLDA quickly appealed the decision, because North Carolina law is actually pretty clear that homeschooling is a valid school in the context of child support, and Wayne County was wrong. Less than four weeks after hearing from our local counsel, Wayne County had completely reversed its position.
In a letter to the mother dated just before Christmas, the county attorney stated, “My client is satisfied that [you are] homeschooling” and promised to release the child support.
I have found that one of the best parts of getting to work at HSLDA is being able to help single parents who are sacrificing so much to make sure that their children get a good education. And that I was able to help get these benefits restored right at Christmas—that’s just the icing on the cake.
So take that, 2020 Grinch. You didn’t win this round.
If you would like to make sure that HSLDA is around to take on Grinches in future years, please click here to join us!