State ex rel. Department of Human Services by Adkins v. Huffman

In State ex rel. Department of Human Services by Adkins v. Huffman, 175 W.Va. 401, 332 S.E.2d 866 (1985), the West Virginia Department of Human Services filed a complaint against a father to recoup AFDC benefits paid upon behalf of his children for the years during which he had abandoned his family. The Circuit Court, in certifying the question of reimbursement to this Court, ruled that, in the absence of a proceeding to determine the limits of support a parent-obligor is able to pay, there can be no basis for a judgment against that parent for AFDC benefits paid by the State. The Court, in Huffman, concluding that the Circuit Court ruled correctly, stated that the father in question, was "entitled to a hearing to determine his ability to repay the AFDC benefits." 175 W.Va. at 406, 332 S.E.2d at 871. As syllabus point 2 of Huffman held: "The Department of Human Services receives only those rights to recoupment of benefits paid under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program (AFDC) that an AFDC recipient could assign: the recipient's right to support and maintenance. That right to support and maintenance is dependent upon the ability of the responsible relative to pay, and the determination of ability to pay must be made through an administrative hearing or court proceeding."