The shocking real reason why LONI ANDERSON is letting ex-hubby BURT REYNOLDS off the hook for $400,000 in back child support!

"I feel sorry for Burt. I’m not going to pursue it anymore," Loni told pals.

"I don’t want to call him a deadbeat dad on top of all his other troubles."

While their 1994 divorce ranks among one of the most bitter splits in Hollywood history, Loni was saddened when Burt was forced to enter alcohol and pain pill rehab last year after collapsing at his mansion in Hobe Sound, Fla., said a close source.

When she and Burt divorced, the Deliverance star was ordered to pay her $4,000-a-month child support until their adopted son Quinton turned 18.

"Burt’s made more than 20 movies since the divorce, but he paid sporadically from the start.

"He’d pay $4,000 one month, not pay anything for three months, and then send $5,000," said the source.

"It went on like that for years.

"By the time Quinton turned 18, Burt owed Loni over $400,000."

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