I-Team: Son billed for father’s unpaid child support

$80,000 bill, notice of levy sent to beneficiary

CHARLEMONT, Mass. (WWLP) – A man from Franklin County received an $83,000 bill for unpaid child support that his father never paid. The 22News I-Team discovered why this happened and what the I-Team did to help get this pricey problem resolved.

The bill was just the start of it, the state also sent Charlemont’s Charles Ricko II a letter saying there was going to be a lien placed on his property. “He was the stereotypical, deadbeat dad,” said Ricko II.

When Charles Ricko Sr. died last September, he owed more than $83,000 in unpaid child support.  Charles Ricko II is the oldest of his six children, but after his father’s death  he got stuck with his father’s bill and a letter saying there was a lien placed on his Charlemont property.

(This was money meant for you and your brothers and sisters, that your father owed, now all of a sudden there’s a lien against your property, what’s going through your mind there?) “Absolute panic, my first thought was how could they expect me to pay the child support that was never paid on my behalf,” said Ricko II.

The lien was taken off this house, just this week after Ricko had to deal with the Department of Revenue for more than a year. “I couldn’t get anywhere with the lien notice, getting it removed, I contacted 22News,” said Ricko II.

After the 22News I-Team made some phone calls and emails, within a day or two, Ricko II received the news he was hoping for; an apology letter, a notice that the lien was released and the payment was not his responsibility, but he wasn’t given any explanation as to why there was a lien on his house. Representatives from the Child Support Enforcement division wouldn’t talk on camera, but Department of Revenue Spokeswoman Maryann Merigan sent the I-Team this statement:

Child Support Enforcement (CSE) takes its role of enforcing the financial responsibilities of parenthood very seriously and having the authority to place liens where appropriate is critical in providing support to children. Placing a lien on real estate owned (fully or partially) by a parent who is in arrears on their child support obligation is a tool that has been available to CSE for some time. When a lien is issued, it will be recorded with the Secretary of State’s office and the local county registry. The county registry will record the lien but it only has a legal impact (i.e. attaches to the property) if the delinquent parent has some ownership interest in the property listed or in any other property in that county.

There are other circumstances where CSE may issue a Notice of Levy to others who may have assets in their possession that belong to the delinquent parent and can be used to satisfy the obligation, including an executor of an estate where the parent dies owing child support. CSE does not hold any other individual responsible for a delinquent parent’s obligation.”

(Are you satisfied now that this issue is finally settled?) “I’m satisfied in that respect, I do think that the whole customer service with the DOR Child Support Enforcement Division needs to be addressed,” said Ricko II.

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