Former Rep. Duncan Hunter on ‘Permanent Vacation’ from Paying Support, Says His Wife

Former Rep. Duncan D. Hunter leaves court after Family Settlement Conference
Former Rep. Duncan D. Hunter walks out of court just before noon Thursday after a family resolution conference. Photo by Ken Stone

Former Rep. Duncan D. Hunter failed to pay child and spousal support during a “permanent vacation” in Poland and back this year, his estranged wife told the court Thursday.

“He hasn’t [sent] a dime since April, not even $25 or any support payments, and I think I should have been able to do something,” Margaret Hunter told Judge CJ Mody in El Cajon Family Court.

Hunter’s attorney painted a different picture of his three-month European trip.

The disgraced former Republican lawmaker, unemployed since January, traveled to Poland to “help make … connections” and find some “type of employment through those relationships there,” said Leslie Abrigo, a Chula Vista family law attorney. .

He also said that Hunter, a Navy combat veteran, was now considering using the GI Bill to get his contractor’s license, a return to the kind of job he had before Congress.

In the end, Mody granted Hunter the requested “downward modification” of his child support payments based on the DissoMaster computer program and court guidelines.

Beginning July 1, he will send Margaret $1,038 a month in child support (for her 15-year-old daughter, Sarah, who lives with her mother in La Mesa) and $323 a month in spousal support.

Hunter, 45, was ordered a year ago to pay $2,212 in monthly spousal support and $1,743 in child support. But with Duncan losing his full-time job in January and Margaret now claiming $3,175 in gross monthly wages, the judge readjusted the payments.

Mody also ordered the couple, separated since September 2019 amid his corruption scandal, to split Sarah’s health care costs 50/50. She must also file weekly reports with Margaret, 47, showing that she has made at least 10 contacts for possible employment.

A half-day test has been set for January 31, 2023, to decide how to divide disputed debts and assets, including a 5% timeshare and retirement account. But Margaret seemed open to private mediation, which would avoid a public trial.

Margaret called the hearing at the El Cajon courthouse, but did not make herself visible on a Microsoft Teams screen. Duncan sat with his attorney in the quiet second floor courtroom with only court staff and a single news reporter in attendance.

Not a single word was uttered by either side, or by the judge, about Hunter’s six-term congressional run, which ended after he and his wife pleaded guilty to wanton misuse of donor money. of the Bell. (They were later pardoned by then-President Trump, saving Duncan 11 months in prison.)

But the details of their recent lives escaped.

Duncan Hunter said he has lived with his parents rent-free in their 4,000-square-foot alpine property since their separation. He described his accommodations: a single room with a bathroom, no living room or kitchen, in his “wing” of the 5-bedroom, 6-bathroom house (with an adjoining 3-bedroom rented auxiliary housing unit).

Mody asked him the “reasonable rental value” of the entire home of former Congressman Duncan Lee Hunter and his wife, Lynne.

“I have no idea, your honor,” Hunter said.

In lieu of rent, Hunter said he’s helping with chores on his parents’ 3-acre property, 30 to 40 hours total this year. She cited “earth work, sewer work, water work, landscaping. Clean, fix”.

Margaret, whose maiden name is Jankowski from her native Poland, said she has been working as a CNA, a certified nursing assistant.

“I have two years in college (credit) that don’t count anymore, it’s been too long,” he said. “School was supposed to start on July 5 and I physically can’t because the schedule just doesn’t work with a full-time job. … Being a CNA is not an option for me for the next 15 years.”

Attorney Abrigo said Hunter hoped to get a job soon and in the meantime is taking out loans to pay child support and bills. His parents have lent him “several thousand” this year, the court was told.

Judge Mody said this “leaves the court with questions as to whether these are actually loans or gifts to Mr. Hunter.”

Margaret, acting as her own attorney, had questions of her own.

“I’m a little confused with the money he’s getting. I was not aware… of unemployment insurance,” she said. Hunter revealed that he receives $1,620 a month in state unemployment benefits.

Margaret said her spring trip to “a third world country” helped boost her income.

“He can live very comfortably on the money he was getting a month,” Margaret said. But she wondered why he would leave the United States with a military disability (that was not specified).

“I think he would want to stay comfortably at home and not travel to a war zone,” she said. …He seems like he is…on permanent vacation…and I think some of the details on his expense report are questionable to me.”

Except for a “lump sum” earlier this year, Margaret “stopped receiving money in mid-January,” he said.

The judge noted that Duncan reported spending approximately $500 a month on groceries, $750 a month “eating out” and $250 a month on clothing.

Mody tried to delve into their respective tax obligations. But Margaret and Duncan said they have yet to file 2021 taxes, after seeking extensions.

Margaret last filed her income and expense statement with the court in June 2021 and said her rent increased from $2,300 to $2,800 per month.

“In September 2019, she had no choice but to get an apartment,” she said, noting that “all of our pets” live with her, along with Sarah. (Two other children, a son and a daughter, are out of the house.)

Margaret, who moved to the United States with her family from Poland, met Hunter, a junior at Granite Hills High School, on election night in 1992 through her father’s congressional office, where she volunteered. as a volunteer. They got married in 1998.

In court, they referred to each other only as “Miss Hunter” and “Mr. Hunter.” Ditto for Mody, eschewing the traditional honorific of “Congressman Hunter.”

Mody noted that Margaret filed her petition for dissolution on November 20, 2020.

“We are rapidly approaching the two-year mark with this case,” he said, “and this case needs to move toward resolution or trial.”

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