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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    7

    Angry Mother Kept Teenager's Earnings

    My question involves child abuse or neglect in the State of: Arizona

    While this might not be the forum for this, the majority of this occured before I was 18.
    To make a long story short, while living with my mother from age 16-19, I worked at a grocery store, and received weekly paychecks, which were deposited in a joint account opened by me and my mother. (I was 15 at the time the account was made and thought this was just how it had to be done, the account was not meant to be used by her, and to my knowledge she never put money into it.)
    I later discovered she had been using the money deposited into that account as though she had earned it, buying electronics and toys for herself, paying for gas and food, and using it to pay rent and other utilities, to the tune of about 15 grand. She did not need to use this money to support the family, since she was already receiving child support and WIC and other welfare from the church and government.
    By the time I got sick of her parasitism I was age 19, but by then the money was gone, and now that I am living on my own (just turned 20), I really could use it.

    What recourse do I have against her?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Somewhere near Canada
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    Default Re: Financial Abuse by Mother

    Assuming Mom was actually a joint owner of the account, you've basically contributed to supporting your household for the past few years while Mom was struggling.

    Very generous of you

    (In other words - she, as a legal owner of the account, was entitled to do what she wanted with the monies)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    7

    Default Re: Financial Abuse by Mother

    I was 15 when that account was open. Did you have a firm grasp of what “joint account” meant at age 15? No?
    Keep in mind she spent none of this money on me or my sister. She spent it on a flatscreen for her room, and drunken nights out with her boyfriend. My sister and I ate cereal for almost every meal, and only had real food when we spent time with my dad.
    When I moved out, I was totally broke, and had to live with friends for months while I got my paychecks cashed and applied for scholarships. That money was for me to start my life, and nobody expects to be shafted by a parent.
    In my mind, this was abuse.

  4. #4
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: Financial Abuse by Mother

    Not that it's relevant but yeah, at 15 I actually did know. Not sure of your point there.

    No, by YOUR words she spent it on :

    I later discovered she had been using the money deposited into that account as though she had earned it, buying electronics and toys for herself, paying for gas and food, and using it to pay rent and other utilities, to the tune of about 15 grand.

    She obviously was spending at least some (I'd hazard more than "some", actually) of the money - if indirectly - on you and the family.

    Legally, this is not abuse in any way, shape or form. No matter what you might think.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    7

    Default Re: Financial Abuse by Mother

    In other words, she wasted all the welfare and child support, and used my account to pay off her debts.

  6. #6
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: Financial Abuse by Mother

    Admittedly it would be interesting to hear Mom's side of things.

    It was also HER account - don't forget that part.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    7

    Default Re: Financial Abuse by Mother

    She did not contribute to it. the extent of her labor for that money was driving me to the bank to help me start the account.

    Her side of things is that I am her child and I am obligated to help her (despite the fact she spent most of it on drunken sprees). My side is that I have my own life, and can't afford to have my parents stealing from me. Her financial irresponsability was the reason my dad left her.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2009
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    Default Re: Financial Abuse by Mother

    Which doesn't change the legal reality.

    You have no recourse.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Mother Kept Teenager's Earnings

    First, although people these days don't seem to recall the history, it was not so long ago that parents simply had the right to take their children's earnings. At common law a child's income was the property of the father. Many states have modified that by statute, most dramatically in California, to protect high earning children from having their earnings frittered away by parents, but I'm not aware of any state that would prevent an employed minor from being compelled by a parent to help support the household, and some states have laws that remain pretty close to the common law rule.

    The common law rule is implied in Arizona's emancipation statutes, specifically in ARS 12-2454 which describes as one of the effects of emancipation "An emancipation order issued pursuant to this article terminates a parent's or legal guardian's... Right to the emancipated minor's income". Arizona, like every state, has a lot of statutes and it's possible that there's a statute that protects some of the earnings of minors under some circumstances, but the emancipation statute suggests that on the whole Arizona still treats a child's income as an asset of the parents.

    Beyond that, it looks like this type of action would be subject to a two year statute of limitations (ARS 12-542) that started to run when you turned 18 (ARS 12-502), and even if you get a judgment it is difficult to imagine how mom would pay it. (From what you've told us of her character and earning capacity, perhaps from the wages of your younger siblings?)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    238

    Default Re: Mother Kept Teenager's Earnings

    My ex-wife did something very similar to our son while he was in the Navy and deployed on a WestPac cruise. When he returned to the states the money he'd saved up was gone. She had access to the account and took advantage of that access. Apparently her sense of entitlement and lack of self-control overrode her better judgement.

    Think of it as contributing to the cost of your education. You've learned something about life now.

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