This page will highlight recent case decisions of far reaching impact, new legislation, and other news related to family law.


Court tells parents - find work, or go to jail! (02/98) In an important decision that will affect thousands of non-custodial parents, the California Supreme Court ruled that parents who cannot afford to pay child support must find work. Parents who refuse will now bear the burden of proving they cannot work and risk jail time for contempt of court. The court called child support one of the most fundamental obligations in society and rejected arguments that "seek work" orders were a form of slavery. (To view an Sacramento Bee article on the decision, click here.)

Clinton Signs New Federal Deadbeat Parent Law (06/98) President Clinton signed new federal legislation that carries stiff penalties for out of state deadbeat parents. Under the new law, parents who are delinquent in their child support obligations could face up to two years in prison plus fines and restitution. Two new felony categories were created. Crossing state lines with the intent to evade child-support payments is now a felony for parents owing $5,000 or more, or whose payments have remained unpaid for more than a year. In addition, out-of-state parents owing $10,000 or more or who fail to pay for two years will also be subject to felony charges. The new legislation gives more bite to existing laws passed in 1992 that deemed crossing state lines to duck payments a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison. A new tracking system created by Welfare reform in 1996 is aiding state officials in identifying deadbeat parents. Collection efforts are up 68% since 1992, from 8 billion to 13.4 billion dollars.

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