California Court Explains the Role of Outside Protective Orders in Family Law Cases

Discovery is an essential component of divorce actions, and the San Diego Family Law Courts will typically go to great lengths to protect that right to ensure just and efficient resolution of cases. Discover, in a San Diego Divorce or Legal Separation can include, but not limited to, the following: Written Interrogatories; Production of Documents; Deposition; Subpoena. Recently, a California Court discussed the interplay between discovery in a divorce action and a protective order in an unrelated case. If you have questions about how other proceedings may impact your rights in a divorce action, it is in your best interest to consult a San Diego divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the husband and wife had a brief marriage, followed by a separation and subsequent high-conflict litigation over child custody and support. After a trial in 2011, the Trial Court ordered the husband to pay monthly child support. In 2015, the wife sought a modification of the child support obligation based on alleged non-disclosure of financial information. The Court reduced the child support obligation, however.

Allegedly, in the husband April 2019, the husband raised concerns about overpaid child support and requested an order to determine arrears. The wife sought discovery related to the husband’s motion, and when he neglected to answer her requests, moved to compel his response. The Trial Court granted her motion. The husband then moved to set aside the Trial Court’s order, arguing that a protective order secured in 2017 in a separate malpractice action prevented the use of certain financial information in their family law proceedings. The Trial Court rejected the husband’s argument, and he appealed.

The Role of Outside Protective Orders in Family Law Cases

The primary issue on appeal was how the protective order’s attempt to restrict the use of certain financial information impacted the Trial Court’s jurisdiction. The Court clarified that parents’ agreements cannot constrain a Trial Court’s authority to provide for child custody and support. In other words, any agreement that attempts to circumvent the Court’s jurisdiction in child support matters is deemed void as contrary to public policy. In the subject case, the Court ruled that the 2017 protective order, including the provisions that proclaimed to bar the use of the information in the ongoing family law proceedings between the wife and husband, could not divest the Court of its jurisdiction over matters relating to child support.

Additionally, the Court found that the record clearly indicated that the Trial Court retained jurisdiction over the Child Support order and any motion related to the order. As such, the Court found that the Trial Court’s exercise of jurisdiction over the matter was proper and ultimately affirmed the Trial Court’s ruling.

Confer with a Skilled California Divorce Attorney

Generally, Trial Courts retain jurisdiction over divorce cases and will address any motions seeking modifications of orders they issued. If you need assistance with a divorce action, it is smart to confer with an attorney about your rights. The skilled San Diego divorce attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC have ample experience handling dissolution proceedings including motions for modifications, and if we represent you, we will work 100% on your behalf.  You can contact us through our online form or call us at 800-769-4748 to set up a free and confidential conference.

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