Court Reverses Child Support Order that Penalized Mother for Interference

In this case, the Fourth District partially reversed a San Diego County Commissioner’s child support order that attributed a nonexistent timeshare percentage to the father for the period prior to his child’s majority.

Holding that “(t)he trial court did not identify a valid legal or factual basis for using something other than Father’s actual timeshare in calculating child support,” it said that the trial court erred by using a higher timeshare “in response to Mother’s perceived interference with Father’s reunification efforts and visitation rights, effectively applying an equitable credit in Father’s favor to offset Mother’s purported interference.”

It further stated that “the law is well-settled that a court is prohibited from terminating or otherwise using child support as a way to penalize or secure the cooperation of a parent who is allegedly frustrating or interfering with the obligor parent’s custody or visitation rights. The trial court utilized a 29 percent timeshare, but it is undisputed Father did not have primary physical responsibility for Child 29 percent (or anywhere close to that amount) of the time. Calculating child support in this manner is tantamount to withholding child support and is inconsistent with the governing law in this highly regulated area. (§ 3556; Moffatt, supra, 27 Cal.3d at p. 651.) Because there is no valid legal or factual basis to support application of a 29 percent timeshare for the disputed time period, we must reverse the support award. (S.P., supra, 4 Cal.App.5th at p. 934.)”

Read the court’s opinion here.

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