In most stereotypical child support cases, one parent makes a monthly payment to the other parent for the support of the child. So what happens if you have a court order that requires you to pay support to your ex-spouse, but then, some time later, the child stops living with your ex-spouse and thereafter lives with your parents? According to a recent ruling by the First District Court of Appeal, this situation may entitle you to pursue certain legal action regarding your child support, even if the child resided with a third party rather than in your own home.
The backstory was a complicated one. The parents married in 1978 and had the child in 1979, and the mother filed for divorce in 1981. The child, from 1981 to reaching age 18 in 1997, lived with the mother for two 10-month stretches. For the rest of the time, the child lived with the father’s parents.
The father claimed in his current child support case that he was entitled to various credit and set-asides for the period of time that the child lived with the grandparents. The trial court, however, denied that request.
The father appealed, and he won. His winning argument was that the trial court had the discretion to deny enforcement of the child support order in his case during the years that the child lived with his parents. The appeals court pointed out that, in the past, many cases to come before it involved instances in which a child support dispute arose in the aftermath of a situation in which the child relocates and begins living with the parent who owes the court-ordered support obligation. In this family’s case, the child resided with neither parent for the bulk of the time. The appeals court decided that, in this type of circumstance as well as one in which the child moves in with the payor parent, the law gives the courts discretion to deny enforcement of a child support order.
In the previous cases in which the child moved in with the parent ordered to pay support, the courts have said that the trial judge has the power to decline to enforce the support order because the parent with the support obligation has provided support through means other than writing a check. The situation here was similar. Had the child lived with the mother and the paternal grandparents written her a check every month paying the father’s child support, the father’s obligation unquestionably would have been treated as discharged. Since his parents provided a home for the child on his behalf, his case was entitled to similar treatment.
Whatever the specific details of your situation, child support cases are serious matters, and you should treat them accordingly and hire experienced family law counsel. The skilled San Diego child support attorneys at Doppelt & Forney have been assisting clients throughout Southern California, including in San Diego, Encinitas, La Jolla, and Chula Vista, for many years when it comes to child support and other family law issues. For a free consultation, reach out to Doppelt & Forney through our website or call toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).
More blog posts:
Dealing With Child Support in California When the Supporting Parent Has Very High Net Worth, San Diego Divorce Lawyer Blog, Dec. 27, 2016
California Father’s Failed Appeal Demonstrates the Risks of ‘Going it Alone’ in Your Family Law Case, San Diego Divorce Lawyer Blog, Nov. 15, 2016