13 A.3d 1175 (Del.Fam.Ct. 2010), 09-38025, DCSE/A.G.S. v. R.T.S.

Docket Nº:CS98-11337.
Citation:13 A.3d 1175
Opinion Judge:JONES, J.
Party Name:In the Matter of DCSE/A.G.S., Petitioner v. R.T.S., Respondent.
Attorney:John X. Denney Jr., Esquire, Mattleman, Weinroth, & Miller, P.C., Newark, Delaware, Attorney for A.G.S. R.T.S., pro se.
Case Date:December 07, 2010
Court:Family Court of Delaware
 
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Page 1175

13 A.3d 1175 (Del.Fam.Ct. 2010)

In the Matter of DCSE/A.G.S., Petitioner

v.

R.T.S., Respondent.

No. CS98-11337.

Petition No. 09-38025.

Family Court of Delaware, Sussex County.

December 7, 2010

Submitted: Nov. 19, 2010.

Page 1176

John X. Denney Jr., Esquire, Mattleman, Weinroth, & Miller, P.C., Newark, Delaware, Attorney for A.G.S.

R.T.S., pro se.

REVIEW OF COMMISSIONER'S ORDER

OPINION 1

JONES, J.

Pending before the Court is a Request for Review of a Commissioner's Order filed by A.G.S. (mother) on November 19, 2010. Mother requests that the Court review an Order issued by a Commissioner of this Court on October 29, 2010. The Commissioner entered an Order for Permanent Arrears/Contempt Support in favor of mother and against R.T.S. (father). There was no hearing in this matter.

Background and Facts

Mother, by and through counsel, filed a Petition to Set Arrears on November 19, 2009. In mother's petition, she set forth that Judge Herbert Cobin of the New Castle County Family Court issued an Order against father and in the interest of V.A.S., (DOB 1972), and R.T.S., Jr., (DOB 1974), on September 8, 1977. The Order required father to pay $80.00 per week in support, to commence on August 12, 1977. Mother described the extensive history of her case, spanning more than thirty years, including, but not limited to, a discussion of all applicable petitions, capiases, and Orders.

In a letter to the parties, dated December 17, 2009, authorizing mother to conduct discovery by deposition on the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), the Commissioner noted that mother's action sought the accrued unpaid support as well as interest on the obligation. He stated that child support judgments customarily had not included an assessment of interest and that, therefore, the Court requested that counsel provide the legal basis upon which an interest assessment could be made.

On April 1, 2010, a hearing occurred in the matter. Subsequently, on April 6, 2010, a Commissioner of this Court issued an Interim Arrears/Contempt Support Order in favor of mother and against father. Pursuant to this Order, father owed arrears/retroactive support in the amount of $27,943.60 as of March 18, 2010, to be paid in the amount of $650.00 per month to DCSE. The Commissioner noted in the Order that mother, through counsel, disputed the tabulation of arrears, the value of the AFDC assignment, and the absence of post-judgment interest.

On July 9, 2010, the Commissioner sent a letter to the parties, updating them on outstanding issues related to the case, and informing them that the primary issue left in dispute was whether mother was entitled to retroactive simple interest on the

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arrears. Accordingly, the Commissioner requested that the parties submit legal arguments to the Court with their suggested tabulations. Pursuant to this request, mother submitted her Memorandum in Support of Setting Arrears and Interest on Past Due Child Support (Memorandum) on August 30, 2010. Prior to mother's submission, the Deputy Attorney General had notified the Court by letter dated July 23, 2010, that DCSE was not seeking any interest on the AFDC arrears owed to the State.

Thereafter, the Commissioner considered mother's Memorandum and issued a Permanent Arrears/Contempt Support Order on October 29, 2010, finding that father owed arrears/retroactive support in the amount of $93,369.10 as of November 1, 2010, and requiring him to pay $772.66 per month in arrears and interest to Delaware's Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE).

In the Order, the Commissioner noted that the primary issue in consideration was interest assessment on father's delinquent arrears. The Commissioner stated that although Title 13, Chapter 5 of the Delaware Code is a comprehensive statement of the law with regard to child support enforcement, it contains no reference to judgment interest. Therefore, he came to the conclusion that any assessment of interest was discretionary. He found interest to be appropriate in this case, due to...

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