August 2020 Update
The current update includes changes that reflect recent developments in case law, legislation, and court rules. Summarized below are some of the more important developments included in this update.
Mandatory add-ons. The plain language of Fam C §4062 does not restrict “employment” or “employment skills” to current employment. Rather, it allows a court to consider “a request for childcare costs related to reasonably necessary education for prospective employment to allow a custodial parent to become self-supporting without the need for public assistance.” Greiner v Keller (2019) 36 CA5th 332. See §3.59.
Persons subject to support orders. Family Code §3951(a) does not apply to a situation in which the local child support agency sought child support from a child’s mother for a grandmother who was awarded custody of a minor child. The agency was not barred by Fam C §3951 because the grandmother’s support was no longer “voluntary.” Rather, it was court ordered, and there was no evidence of any agreement between the mother and the grandmother for compensation. County of San Diego Dep’t of Child Support Servs. v C.A. (2019) 34 CA5th 614. See §1.15.
Exemptions. Effective September 1, 2020, CCP §703.520 will become inoperative, and as of January 1, 2021 is repealed. New CCP §703.520, operative September 1, 2020, expressly allows a claim of exemption to be filed in person by mail and amends the time for the filing of the notice of opposition by the judgment creditor. Stats 2019, ch 552, §§5, 6. See §§9.21, 9.51A, 9.70.
This legislation also creates new exemptions, including money provided to the judgment debtor by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, money in a judgment debtor’s deposit account in an amount equal to or less than the minimum basic standard of adequate care for a family of four, and “money in a judgment debtor’s deposit account that is not otherwise exempt under these provisions to the extent that money is necessary for the support of the judgment debtor and the spouse and dependents of the judgment debtor.” See §9.78.
Family Code §4007.5, which was repealed January 1, 2020, holds that absent certain exceptions, every money judgment or order for support of a child shall be suspended, by operation of law, for any period exceeding 90 consecutive days in which the person ordered to pay support is incarcerated or involuntarily institutionalized. Fam C §4007.5(a). As of this writing, pending legislation seeks to reenact the provisions of Fam C §4007.5 until January 1, 2023. See AB 2325 (2019). See §§3.28, 10.3.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (HR 748), also known as the CARES Act, requires states to intercept federal stimulus payments to apply to overdue child support. On April 16, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N–52–20, which provides that stimulus intercepts must apply to families first, and government-owed arrears only after the family is paid. See §10.12.
Ability to pay. The court has discretion to determine whether an obligation to make principal payments on a loan against income-producing properties or business debt “reasonably and legitimately reduces the spouse's net income available for support” in light of the totality of the relevant circumstances. Marriage of Deluca (2020) 45 CA5th 184. See §7.19.
Presumptions. A wife failed to overcome the Fam C §4325 rebuttable presumption against awarding spousal support to a spouse convicted of domestic violence because she presented her case solely through her own testimony and did not produce any documented evidence. Fam C §4325(c). Marriage of Brewster & Clevenger (2020) 45 CA5th 481. See §7.27.
Setting long-term support. Although support awards are discretionary, the court must articulate its reasons for making an award if not apparent from the record. Marriage of Ciprari (2019) 32 CA5th 83. See §7.11.
A trial court’s failure to include a specific amount of income required for the supported spouse to maintain her marital standard of living was not an abuse of discretion when it had properly considered and weighed that standard along with the other Fam C §4320 factors. Marriage of Grimes & Mou (2020) 45 CA5th 406. See §§7.12, 8.15.
Effective January 1, 2020, the procedures and requirements under which a voluntary declaration of parentage may be established and challenged are modified. Fam C §§7570–7581 (Stats 2018, ch 876). See discussion in §1.36.
The provision requiring representation by independent counsel, does not apply retroactively to premarital agreements executed before January 1, 2002, the effective date of the amendment of Fam C §1612(c) that requires such representation. Marriage of Miotke (2019) 35 CA5th 849. See §5.10.
Appealability. An order for temporary or permanent spousal support is directly appealable even without a final judgment. Marriage of Grimes & Mou (2020) 45 CA5th 406. See §7.6.
Establishing support orders. A declaration filed in support of a Request for Order is not automatically admitted into evidence and is not evidence that may be considered in resolving disputed factual issues until it is offered as evidence, marked, and subject to objections.Marriage of Pasco (2019) 42 CA5th 585. See §§2.20, 8.37.