Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Page 3


Court of Appeal Holds:

Child Support Payments May Be Aligned With Income From Former Job


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A man who betrayed his employer and attempted to cheat his offspring out of a just amount of child support by artificially minimizing his income has, by appealing a trial court decision that boosts his support obligations, had his misdeeds publicly exposed in a Court of Appeal opinion.

The man, Charles D. McHugh, had been a commissioned salesman for a company. He diverted customers from that company to a rival firm opened by his father.

To downplay, on paper, the extent of his commissions, he conspired with a cohort to put sales in that person’s name, then secretly split commissions with him.

Upon discovery of his perfidy, the employer agreed to retain McHugh if he would divulge the extent of his transgressions, make restitution, and execute a “last chance” employment agreement.

He would not agree to that.

Upon being fired, McHugh took a lower paying job and petitioned for a reduction in support payments based on reduced income. His former wife countered with a request for a boost in payments, pointing out that McHugh was offered continued employment at the company that fired him if he would abide by reasonable conditions.

Affirming a judgment increasing support payments, Justice Richard M. Aronson of the Fourth District’s Div. Three said in an opinion filed Wednesday:

“Family Code section 4058, subdivision (b), grants trial courts discretion to set child support based on a parent’s earning capacity rather than actual income if the court finds the parent has the ability and opportunity to earn income at the level to be imputed….[T]his discretion includes imputing income to the parent based on earnings at a prior job, without evidence the parent has the current opportunity to earn at that same level, if the parent left or otherwise lost the job in a manner reflecting a voluntary and deliberate divestiture of financial resources required to pay child support obligations, and imputing income at that level is in the child’s best interests.”

Aronson declared:

“[S]ubstantial evidence supports the findings that (1) Charles had the ability and opportunity to keep his job; (2) his termination was a voluntary divestiture of resources required for child support obligations because of his misconduct in diverting business to his father’s company to avoid his support obligations and deliberately failing to satisfy his employer’s conditions for keeping his higher paying job; and (3) imputing income to Charles was in the child’s best interests.”

The case is McHugh v. Orange County Department of Child Support Services, G048551.


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