WSVN — Cesar’s mother lost her job when Dade Medical College shut down. Then they found out the state quit trying to collect child support from the boy’s father. Can the state close your child support case, leaving a family facing eviction? Help Me Howard has the story.

It was an e-mail to Patrick that really bothered him. A 13-year-old was asking for help because he and his mother were about to be homeless. And when Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser spoke to them, they discovered they had many more problems. 

Patrick Fraser: "When I got the e-mail, my first thought was, ‘No child should ever have to write this.’"

Cesar Flores: "The computer lab was open, so I decided to send an e-mail."
Cesar Flores wrote: "I am a 13-year-old. I am begging you, my mom got a call from our landlord and we might have to move out on the streets."

Cesar Flores: "After my mom’s job collapsed, I saw she wasn’t really sleeping, not looking that good.’

Cesar Flores also sent his mother a text that day.

Libia Sabras: "He [Cesar] texted me in the middle of the day. Says, ‘I e-mailed Help Me Howard. We need help. Don’t be mad.’"

Libia was not mad. In fact, she is very proud of Cesar and his 15-year-old brother Jose.

Libia Sabras: "My boys, what can I say? The loves of my life, my reason to live."

But their life is rough right now with bills and problems piling up, after Libia lost her teaching job when Dade Medical College shut down.

Libia Sabras: "Devastation. Devastation would be the word because I’m a single mom. I literally lived check to check."

Meaning life was hard, even before she lost her job.

Cesar Flores: "We have rice and beans and we eat together. It’s hard, it’s hard. We can’t go out much. My mom bought my brother and I used game consoles. We were making it."

The boys’ father was supposed to pay child support, but Libia says he hasn’t paid in a year and seldom paid before that, owing her more than $60,000.

Libia Sabras: "I can’t afford to give these kids the minimum they deserve, and I need help."

Libia called her ex to let him know they were being evicted from their apartment, and the boys needed to come live with him.

Libia Sabras: "And he actually asked me how much is the rent. I told him and he deposited the money for the rent. First time in all these years."

That will keep a roof over their head for one more month. So, in desperation, Libia called the Department of Revenue again to try to get them to force her ex to pay child support, but she was told they had closed her case.

Libia Sabras: "And it says it was due to lack of compliance on my part."

Libia doesn’t know what piece of paper she didn’t turn into the Child Support Office, but Cesar says the state should not let his father get away without paying the child support the boys and their mother badly need.

Cesar Flores: "Get my dad to pay child support. It would help a lot. My brother and I can actually get real beds. My mom can stop worrying so much, move to a safer place."

Libia has so many problems: no money to pay next month’s rent, no job yet, and no child support because the state stopped trying to collect from a man who wasn’t paying anyway. Well, Howard, legally can the state do that?

Howard Finkelstein: "In this case, by law the state has to try to locate the deadbeat dad. If they are unable to do so and the mother has no idea where he is, legally they have the right to close the file. But the money is still owed, and the state has to reopen the case if new information is obtained, or they just decide to reopen the case."

And that’s what happened here. The Florida Department of Revenue was told Libia’s ex-husband moved to Georgia. When that state couldn’t find him, they closed their case. Florida sent Libia a letter. When she didn’t respond, they closed their collection case. Libia says she never got a letter.

After we talked to Rene Watters with the State of Florida, they reopened the case and are trying to track the Libia’s ex-husband down to force him to start paying the child support.

Libia Sabras: "Christmas wish list? I want this child support to come in periodically. I want to teach, I have to work." 

Libia is still looking for a job. In the meantime, 13-year-old Cesar has a plan to help raise money to help his mother.

Cesar Flores: "I even started and selling little key chains. Making these."

Patrick Fraser: "How much are you selling them for?"

Cesar Flores: "Five dollars. I attach clips to the top and do different designs to sell them."

Patrick Fraser: "To help your mom?" 

Cesar Flores: "Yeah! Every little bit counts!"

Cesar, no wonder your mother is so proud of you. And an interesting thing here: In Florida, if you are accused of a crime and can’t afford a lawyer, the state will pay for your lawyer. A single mom trying to navigate through the system to get child support, legally, doesn’t have a right to a free lawyer. Anyway, we will keep an eye on Libia and Cesar to see if the state can force the father to pay child support.

Got no support to solve your problem? Ready to cash in and pay them back? Contact us. We don’t have a lot of revenue, but we have a childlike idea that we can help everyone. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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