The court in County of San Diego Department of Child Support Services v. C.A. decided that in some circumstances, grandparents are entitled to child support.
The parents in this case were divorced in Hawaii. Custody was granted to the father. The mother had visitation and was ordered to pay child support. The father moved with their minor child to Maryland. The mother moved to California. While the minor child and father were in Maryland, the paternal grandmother sought custody of the minor child. The paternal grandmother filed a motion in a Maryland court seeking custody of the minor child. Mother did not challenge the order. The Maryland court awarded the grandmother custody.
The grandmother requested child support in Maryland. On behalf of the grandmother, the State of Maryland, through the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (also known as UIFSA), requested that the mother pay child support to the grandmother. The family court in California dismissed the action, because California Family Code Section 3951 states that parents are not obligated to pay support to relatives who voluntarily care for their minor children.
The Department of Child Support Services appealed the order. It argued that when a relative obtains an order to care for a minor child, then the custody arrangement is no longer voluntary. Therefore, the grandmother is entitled to child support. The appellate court agreed and ordered the trial court to determine the amount of support.
California Family Code Section 3951(a): A parent is not bound to compensate the other parent, or a relative, for the voluntary support of the parent’s child, without an agreement for compensation.
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