Tracey Richter is serving life in prison in Iowa for the 2001 murder of 20 year old Dustin Wehde. Richter has been receiving child support arrears payments from her ex-husband, Michael Roberts who began paying back the child support owed after their divorce. After she had received $2,000 in payments from Roberts, a judge ordered that Richter no longer has any dependents and doesn’t need the money to support herself. The judge ordered that the funds be garnished and go to pay the $150,000 restitution that Richter owes Wehde’s family.
Roberts eventually received custody of the their children and moved back to his native Australia. He still owes approximately $45,000 in child support arrears and $60,000 in property and attorney fees. This is still owed even if Richter is incarcerated. Once child support is incurred, then it’s owed and you can’t get rid of the obligation. It’s non-dischargeable in bankruptcy and becomes a creditor against your estate after your death. So, just because Richter is in jail for life doesn’t mean that Roberts doesn’t owe the back child support. The judge made the decision here that the payments that would have gone to Richter because it’s back child support technically owed to her, will go to settle an existing debt she owes, the restitution.
It also should be noted that Richter currently owes Roberts $20 per month in child support under a separate court order. This current order doesn’t affect the amount of arrears that Roberts owes since that is already an existing and calculated debt.