Desrochers v. Desrochers, No. 00-046.

Docket NºNo. 00-046.
Citation795 A.2d 1171
Case DateFebruary 15, 2002
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont

795 A.2d 1171

Robin DESROCHERS (Ashline)
v.
Tim E. DESROCHERS (Office of Child Support, Appellant)

No. 00-046.

Supreme Court of Vermont.

February 15, 2002.


Thomas F. Garrett, Legal Services Law Line of Vermont, Burlington, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Jeffrey L. Martin, Office of Child Support, Waterbury, for Appellant.

Present: AMESTOY, C.J., MORSE, JOHNSON and SKOGLUND, JJ., and COHEN, Supr. J., Specially Assigned.

MORSE, J.

This appeal involves three parties: mother, Robin Ashline, who is an Aid to Needy Families with Children recipient; father, Tim Desrochers, who was obligated to pay mother child support under a 1992 divorce order; and the Office of Child Support, which collects child support on behalf of mother. OCS appeals the decision of the family court determining that OCS did not have the right to collect and keep child support arrears that accrued prior to mother's receipt of ANFC benefits, but paid to her after her period of ANFC benefits and concomitant assignment of child support terminated. OCS argues that the terms of the assignment agreement signed by mother, as well as 33 V.S.A. § 3902 and 45 C.F.R. § 302.51, allow OCS to continue to collect the arrears until they have been reimbursed in full for the benefits paid to her.

Mother cross-appeals and argues that she is entitled to the entire amount of arrears that was reduced to a judgment in

795 A.2d 1172
her favor by the family court in a March 1994 order, including amounts collected by OCS while she received benefits. She contends that the assignment agreement did not constitute a waiver of her rights under the court's 1994 judgment

Because the arrears in question were reduced to a judgment for mother, we cannot agree with OCS that the terms of the assignment agreement she entered into under 33 V.S.A. § 3902, which assigned her right to child support, including past due support, in exchange for ANFC benefits, operated also as an assignment of her rights under the family court's 1994 judgment. Therefore, we modify the judgment of the family court to award mother the entire amount ordered paid to her in the 1994 judgment withheld by OCS.

The facts of this case are not disputed. A daughter was born to mother and father on February 4, 1982. The couple later married on July 15, 1989. They then divorced in December 1992. The family court entered a child support order on May 11, 1992 requiring father to pay mother $33.20 per week. Father fell into arrears on his child support obligation, and OCS brought an enforcement action as an intervenor on January 13, 1994. Father and mother appeared pro se. All three parties stipulated to the entry of an order by the family court that required father to pay mother a total of $1956.36 in arrears and OCS a total of $494.63 in arrears, as mother had received ANFC benefits for a period of time prior to the court's order. The order explicitly provided that "[p]ayment on arrears owed to State shall begin after arrears owed to [mother] have been paid in full." (Emphasis added.) The order provided that the judgment be paid through wage withholding administered by OCS. No party sought to either amend or appeal the judgment.

Several months after the court's order, mother again applied for ANFC benefits. As part of her application, she agreed to assign her rights to child support to OCS. According to mother, even prior to the execution of this agreement, however, she did not receive any of the payments made on the judgment through OCS. OCS does not appear to contest this assertion. During the period she did receive ANFC benefits, OCS continued to collect and retain payments made on the judgment. After the termination of mother's ANFC benefits, OCS transferred current support amounts to her, but continued to keep payments made by...

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2 practice notes
  • OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT LEWIS v. Lewis, No. 03-354.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • December 23, 2004
    ...when a parent receives public assistance from PATH in Vermont. 33 V.S.A. §§ 3901-3904; Desrochers v. Desrochers, 173 Vt. 312, 313, 795 A.2d 1171, 1172 (2002). Section 3903(2) allows PATH to recoup benefits it provided to a parent through a child support proceeding in family court. 33 V.S.A.......
  • Wells Fargo Bank Minn., N.A. v. Rouleau, No. 11–078.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • March 23, 2012
    ...“[a]n assignment agreement must clearly reflect an intent to assign the right in question.” Desrochers v. Desrochers, 173 Vt. 312, 316, 795 A.2d 1171, 1174 (2002); see also Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 324 (1981) (providing that assignment of contractual right requires obligee to “ma......
2 cases
  • OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT LEWIS v. Lewis, No. 03-354.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • December 23, 2004
    ...when a parent receives public assistance from PATH in Vermont. 33 V.S.A. §§ 3901-3904; Desrochers v. Desrochers, 173 Vt. 312, 313, 795 A.2d 1171, 1172 (2002). Section 3903(2) allows PATH to recoup benefits it provided to a parent through a child support proceeding in family court. 33 V.S.A.......
  • Wells Fargo Bank Minn., N.A. v. Rouleau, No. 11–078.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • March 23, 2012
    ...“[a]n assignment agreement must clearly reflect an intent to assign the right in question.” Desrochers v. Desrochers, 173 Vt. 312, 316, 795 A.2d 1171, 1174 (2002); see also Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 324 (1981) (providing that assignment of contractual right requires obligee to “ma......

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