2011: Unemployment, Job Contacts & Child Support

In San Diego, California, unemployment is high. Many parents are unemployed and have child support orders. Under the California Family Law Code and San Diego Local Rules of Court, no modification of child support, with very limited exceptions such as incarceration or concealment past the age of majority, can be applied retroactively. As such, it is crucial to file a motion to modify child support [order to show cause for modification of child support] immediately upon becoming unemployed. This will protect the payor’s rights since a Judge has the discretion to make any child support modifications retroactive to the date of filing. In San Diego, child support modification motions are heard in the Department of Child and Support Services in both San Diego and North County and also heard in the Family Law Court Houses in Vista, El Cajon, Chula Vista and San Diego.

There is a “pilot program” in San Mateo Superior Court which is allowing the Court to order a parent who is unemployed to submit proof of, at a minimum, five applications for employment each week. There are conditions for this order which include, but are not limited to, a declaration by the child support enforcement officer that there was an evaluation of the earning ability and income of the parent and that, unless this order is in place, the parent would ignore the order for child support and be likely to default.

In San Diego County Superior Court, beginning January 1, 2011 with the below version, the San Diego Superior Court also has the ability to order with the following language: A court may require a parent who alleges that the parent's default in a child or family support order is due to the parent's unemployment to submit to the appropriate child support enforcement agency or any other entity designated by the court, including, but not limited to, the court itself, each two weeks, or at a frequency deemed appropriate by the court, a list of at least five different places the parent has applied for employment.

It has been routine, in both the DCSS Court and Family Law Court in San Diego County to make this “job contact” order even before 2011. The Court’s have a form for this and make orders for both personal job contacts as well as internet job contacts. If you are subject to such an order, please feel free to contact us as failure to comply with the job contact order can lead to imputation of income as well as sanctions by the Court. Given the current unemployment in San Diego County, this will affect many San Diego residents.

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