Ryan Lipner -- the charismatic, bipolar 27-year-old who ran a Hallmark store at age 10 and once took girls out in a Hummer limousine with a wad of hundred-dollar bills in his fist -- is suing his parents in an attempt to force them to pay child support for him for the rest of their lives.
Lipner has a knack for creating news about himself. We covered his doomed reign as "the Hallmark Kid" in a 2001 feature by Wyatt Olson and heard from him most recently in January after he dubbed himself a "presidential candidate."
His parents have been largely out of the picture since their 1992 divorce and the failure of the Hallmark businesses Lipner ran with his father, Larry.
The suit against his parents seeking adult child support dates to 2008, when
the Department of Revenue's lawyers filed the claim on Lipner's behalf. His parents have been fighting it, saying he's able to fend for himself. "They'd rather pay their lawyers than pay me," says Lipner.
At the crux of Lipner's suit is his bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder, which he says makes it harder for him to work and earn money. In a motion filed with the court (which Lipner, with a checkered history of representing himself, typed up on his own), he points to a psychologist's evaluation from 2000 that found him mentally incompetent to face fraud charges related to the Hallmark stores.
"Mr. Lipner did not appear to be actually hallucinating during this assessment, however he appeared to be suffering from an active delusional belief system," wrote psychologist Michael Bramman.
Lipner's mother, Linda, wrote a response that was filed with the court: "Ryan chose to make bad choices in his life... This isn't his mother's legal responsibility to then pay for him for the rest of her life or even temporarily," she wrote. "If all parents of convicted criminals getting out of prison or mental hospitals had to contribute to their offspring's support, there would not be any homeless shelters in Florida or any welfare system as we know it."
Lipner says he might have some trouble in court because of his behavior. "They really don't like it when I come because my behavior's so out of control in the courtroom," he says.
In fact, Lipner told Bramman that "the judge is anti-Semitic and wants to send me to prison. I don't know what his fucking problem is, but he told me I better get a [psychological] evaluation before I go back to court."
If this is a legitimate way for people with disabilities to find financial support from uncooperative parents, the publicity that Lipner has chosen to give his case could come in handy, as more people realize they can seek adult child support.
He insists there's a reason for his actions beyond a desire for money and self-aggrandizement. "I'm the first person who walks and talks, who [could] get this adult child support," he says. "There could be a chain reaction of people standing in line at the Department of Revenue," filing for mandated payments from their parents.
The Department of Revenue, and all the spurned parents of Broward County, must not be too thrilled about that prospect. For better or worse, we haven't heard the last of the Hallmark Kid.
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