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California Child Support in Administrative Law pt. 4

Updated: Apr 6

Key Challenges to Due Process


Common due process complaints in California related to child support matters have arisen when individuals believe that their legal rights and procedural fairness have been violated during the child support process. Parents may argue that they did not receive proper notice of child support hearings, administrative actions, or court proceedings. Adequate notice is crucial to allow parents to prepare and participate effectively in their cases. Additionally, a common due process complaint is the denial of the opportunity to present evidence, make arguments, or question witnesses during hearings. Due process requires that parents have a meaningful opportunity to be heard and present their case before any decisions are made. Ensuring that adequate notice is provided and that hearings are conducted fairly is crucial.

 

Courts have recently addressed cases that have claimed due process violation of notice and an opportunity to be heard.

 

Hicks v. Feiock (1988)

This case addressed the constitutionality of California Civil Procedure Code section 1209.5, which shifts the burden of proof to the noncustodial parent to show why they should not be held in contempt for failing to make child support payments. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the statute violated due process because it created an irrebuttable presumption of contempt, which denied the noncustodial parent the opportunity to present evidence in their defense.

 

In re Marriage of Huffman (1990)

In this case, the California Court of Appeal held that a parent facing contempt proceedings for failing to pay child support is entitled to due process, including proper notice and an opportunity to be heard. The court emphasized that before imposing contempt sanctions, courts must ensure that parents had the ability to comply with the child support order and willfully chose not to do so.

 

Lammers v. Superior Court (2000)

This case challenged the constitutionality of San Diego County Superior Court, Local Rules, Family Law, rule 5.12.J, which allowed CSCs to make pre-read decisions in child support cases without giving parties the opportunity to present their arguments before the CSC issued a decision. The Court of Appeal held that the rule violated due process and that parties must be given a meaningful opportunity to be heard before a CSC can make a final decision.

 

Concerns about aggressive or unreasonable child support enforcement actions, such as wage garnishments or driver's license suspensions, without proper consideration of the parent's circumstances have plagued the administrative function of the California child support system. 15  When enforcing child support orders, agencies must follow legal procedures and provide parents with an opportunity to contest enforcement actions if they believe them to be unjust. Administrative agencies should also consider a parent's ability to pay when enforcing orders.

 

Parents should have access to an appeal or review process if they believe an administrative decision is unfair or erroneous. Ensuring that such processes are available and transparent is crucial for due process.

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