Helgestad v. VargasAnnotate this Case
The issue on appeal in this case was one of first impression in California. An unmarried heterosexual couple had two children together, and a paternity test established that the child belonged to defendant-appellant, George Vargas. The couple separates and appellant moves out. Later, the couple attempts reconciliation, which lasted for nine months. The reconciliation failed, and appellant moved out of the house. Appellant claimed he was entitled for credit for the actual, in-home child support he afforded the children during the nine months he was "reconciled" with them and the mother. The trial court concluded the father was not eligible for any such "Jackson" credits, because this case did not fit the "Jackson" pattern of a child support order which originated in a divorce proceeding, and also because there wasn’t a total reversal of custody, but rather a period of shared custody in the context of an attempted reconciliation. The Court of Appeal reversed, believing the same equitable considerations that apply to support orders arising out of marital cases should also apply to support orders arising out of paternity cases. "We see no reason to differentiate total changes of custody from periods of living together in the same household; actual support is actual support."