A Wildomar mother who has been fighting to collect child support from her children's father, a member of the wealthy Viejas Band of Mission Indians in Alpine, has finally succeeded.
Christina Brown, who is not a tribal member, had taken her ex-husband, Sonnie Brown, to court to force him to pay child support and won. But the courts were powerless to collect thousands of dollars in late payments because the state can't garnishee the money that tribal members receive from casino profits.
Brown's ex-husband was not immediately available for comment.
Courts can sentence tribal members to jail for failing to pay, but they can't touch the money due to tribal sovereignty.
Brown's story brought statewide, public attention to the problem last year.
Last month, Brown finally received a $747 check in the mail after the Viejas tribal council reviewed a petition she submitted and agreed to voluntarily garnishee her ex-husband's monthly casino stipends ---- known as "per capita" payments ---- which total about $240,000 a year.
The amount Brown receives in the future is likely to increase to about $4,000 a month, she said. The smaller amount last month was due to a mistake in the paperwork, Brown said.
Brown, 39, said she was thankful for the tribe's decision.
"They made a huge difference in my kids' lives," she said.
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