By: Patrick Baghdaserians, Esq.
On April 25, 2012, I appeared in Court for my client's Order to Show Cause ("OSC") regarding modification of child support. The OSC was filed in the fall of the 2011 and sought to suspend payment of child support. Sounds cruel? Don't judge before you know all of the facts!
Around November 2011, the minor child was removed from the household by LA County. During this time, the child was diagnosed with serious mental health issues.
In January 2012, after lengthy negotiations, the dependency Court entered an order providing legal custody to LA County. The order mirrored a stipulation signed by the parties and their respective counsel. The placement was long term and no termination date was provided.
During this time, my client kept paying nearly $2500.00 in child support to the other parent. The OSC trailed for several months.
On April 25th, nearly 7 months after my client's OSC was filed, the parties finally appeared in Court. The other parent was adamant about maintaining prospective child support. To a certain degree, I was surprised by her position. Her testimony admitted to the facts listed above but yet she maintained her position. After nearly a 2 hour evidentiary hearing regarding child support, the Court ruled in my client's favor and suspended support. The Court also provided retroactive relief, meaning the other parent will have to pay back the support she received while the child was in the custody of LA County.
Since the ruling, I have thought long and hard about this decision. I am still trying to grasp the rationale maintained by the other parent. Why should a parent receive child support when he or she doesn't have custody of the child? My thinking is as follows, child support is for the child! If you don't have the child (or physical responsibility), you don't get child support!
Now I am not advocating that you need to document each penny you spend on the child that would be ridiculous. What I am suggesting is that you should at least be responsible for providing for the care and welfare. Seems simple doesn't it? Fortunately, the Court agreed!
This should be a cautionary tale for those who try to abuse the child support statutes. Child support is not intended to pay for your botox injections or your Christian Louboutin pumps; it's intended to provide for the child!
(My legal argument relied on the following case law; Edwards vs. Edwards (2008) 162 CA4th 136; In re Marriage of Cryer, (2011) 198 Cal.App. 4 th 1039)