Thursday, August 25, 2011
C.A. Rejects O.C. Lawyer’s Bid to Block Child Support Levy
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
An attorney ineligible to practice law due to his failure to pay child and spousal support to his former wife has failed in his bid to quash or recall a levy on his individual retirement account rollover to recover $126,507 in support arrears.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal yesterday ordered published its Aug. 2 decision upholding the levy on suspended Newport Beach attorney Nathan D. La Moure.
La Moure and his wife separated in February 2003 after 10 years of marriage. The following month, La Moure filed for divorce, and San Bernardino Superior Court Judge John M. Pacheco ordered La Moure to enroll in an anger management class and his wife to immediately to enter a residential alcohol treatment program.
Upon her completion of the program, Pacheco ruled the La Moures would share custody of the couple’s two sons. He directed La Moure, a sole practitioner, to pay $4,000 a month in child support and $3,500 a month in spousal support.
La Moure soon fell into arrears on his support obligations, and the California Department of Child Support Services in April 2009, issued an order to Morgan Stanley with an order to withhold funds from La Moure’s retirement accounts for the purpose of collecting child support arrears.
The attorney filed an ex parte motion to quash or recall levy on his IRA account, which Pacheco denied, and a Div. Two panel, in an opinion by Justice Carol D. Codrington, upheld Pacheco’s ruling.
Codrington, joined by Justices Art W. McKinster and Douglas P. Miller, rejected La Moure’s argument that he had been denied due process because he had not received notice of the levy.
“There is no question father is entitled to notice before funds are removed from his IRA account,” Codrington said, but reasoned La Moure had received adequate notice since he said Morgan Stanley had communicated the child support enforcement agency’s order to him, and he was given the opportunity to challenge the levy before the trial court.
She also explained that the state Department of Child Support Services may levy on financial institution accounts by issuing a notice or order of withholding on the support obligor’s financial institution account, without a court order expressly authorizing the levy, and that the levy could be imposed to recover spousal support as well as child support.
The justice further concluded the trial court’s denial of La Moure’s request for a hardship exemption from the levy was not an abuse of discretion since he was left with $5,666 a month in income from his pension plan, in addition to $865 in social security, which was sufficient to support him in his retirement.
The case is In re Marriage of LaMoure, 11 S.O.S. 4691.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company