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Parent Who Lost Rights Need Not Pay Support
Los Angeles Times
Parent Who Lost Rights Need Not Pay Support
By ANNA GORMAN, Times Staff Writer
In what is believed to be the first decision of its kind in California,
a state appellate court has ruled that a former Ventura man did not have
to pay child support once his parental rights were terminated.
The ruling overturned a Ventura County Superior Court decision ordering
the father to pay for his son's care.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal decided in favor of Ramon Gonzales,
who was required to pay $565 a month in child support after his parental
rights were terminated in 1999.
"We conclude that an order terminating parental rights completely severs
the parent-child relationship and deprives the court of the authority to
make an award of child support," the justices wrote in their published
opinion, which was filed last week.
The ruling could affect child support cases throughout California.
"It is obviously new in California, but it is an issue that has been
addressed in other states and has had a similar outcome," said Scott
Altman, a professor at USC.  "It's not a shocking kind of decision."
In Ventura County, the decision could influence 10 to 15 cases each year,
said Stan Trom, head of the county's child support division.
"It will have an impact, but there aren't a lot of these cases," he said.
"This is an unusual situation."
Previously, biological parents were permitted to relinquish their child
support duties when their children were adopted.
The district attorney's office argued that Gonzales was financially
responsible for his son, Jonathan, until the boy was adopted.  Trom said
the county was trying to prevent a monetary gap between the time children
become dependents of the court and are adopted.
"Our view was a practical view," he said.  "We didn't want to have that
lapse. You have now an in-between time, and the state is totally on the hook
for the support of the child."
But Gonzales' attorney, Patrick Reardon, said it is illogical for a father
to have an obligation to support his son but be denied the right to visit
"It certainly doesn't make sense," said Reardon, a Ventura-based attorney.
"Apparently the appellate court agreed with me."
Gonzales said he paid support from October 1999 through November 2000,
when Jonathan was adopted by his grandparents.
LAT Home:
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times



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