Marriage of M.A. and M.A.Annotate this Case
Father and mother divorced in 2004. They had two children. With regard to child support, the judgment of dissolution incorporated the parties' marital settlement agreement, which provided: "A. So long as both parties are gainfully employed, the goal is for [father and mother] to share equally the children's day care expense, health insurance, clothing and food, and other necessaries until the children turn age 18. [. . .] It is understood that, at this time, [mother] is making a steady income from professional employment; and that [father] is currently unemployed and has no income.
[Father] expects to return to work next month, in a self-employed capacity, [. . .] For these reasons, the parties wish to provide for an increase in the amount of [father's] child expense contributions over a period of time." The Court of Appeal, in review of the dispute the parties presented in the enforcement of the judgment of dissolution, assessed the central issue to this case as "a harsh reminder of the severe consequences that may result from a judicial officer's failure to properly handle a statement of disqualification filed under Code of Civil Procedure section 170.3, subdivision (c)(1)." Father appealed a series of post-judgment orders over the accounting of child support and related fees. As to a October 25 order, father contended the court abused its discretion in awarding the fees because of mother's superior financial condition and higher percentage
of parenting time. The Court concluded father did not meet his burden of establishing a clear abuse of discretion and affirmed this order. Father argued that November 22 orders were invalid because, among other reasons, the commissioner who made it was disqualified under Code of Civil Procedure section 170.3, subdivision (c)(4). Here, the Court of Appeal agreed and, reversed these orders and remanded the matter to the superior court for further proceedings.