Saturday, April 14, 2007

Appellate ruling, part 1

The first annoying thing about a family court appeal is the standard for review. The family court judges have very broad discretion to do what they want, and the only way to reverse them to prove that they abused their discretion. The appellate court said:
A child support order is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. (In re Marriage of Cheriton (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 269, 282 (Cheriton); see also In re Marriage ofDestein (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 1385, 1393 (Destein) ["A trial court's decision to impute income to a parent for child support purposes based on the parent's earning capacity is reviewed under the abuse of discretion standard."].) We determine "whether the court's factual determinations are supported by substantial evidence and whether the court acted reasonably in exercising its discretion." (de Guigne, supra, 97 Cal.AppAth 1353, 1360.) We do not substitute our own judgment for that of the trial court, but determine only if any judge reasonably could have made such an order. (Ibid.)
In practice, this means that family court judge can just say that he made a factual determination that his order was in the best interest of the child, and the appellate court will uphold it.

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