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In re the Marriage of Paulin
California Court of Appeal
54 Cal. Rptr. 2d 314 (1996)
In 1991, Scott Paulin (plaintiff) petitioned for a child-support modification after his new wife had twins. Pursuant to the petition, the court held a hearing to determine whether a reduction to Scott’s child-support obligation was warranted. The mother of Scott’s other children, Robyn Paulin (defendant), to whom he paid child support, submitted to the court a declaration stating that she was no longer employed as a nurse. The declaration was an attempt to provide evidence that Scott’s obligation should not be reduced. In the declaration, Robyn stated that she had voluntarily ended her employment because the job was extremely stressful and because she feared her nursing license may be at risk because of the facility’s poor record keeping. Robyn also stated that she was seeking employment opportunities but had not found an appropriate opportunity given her training and experience. However, Robyn provided no evidence to support her assertion that there was a lack of employment opportunities. Scott argued that Robyn was unwilling, rather than unable, to work, and because Robyn was not present at the hearing, she was unable to counter Scott’s assertions. The court then ordered a reduction in Scott’s obligation, relying on Robyn’s previous monthly income from when she was employed, which was $1,505 per month. The court had used the same $1,505 per month figure in determining the initial obligation. However, in its order, the court stated that it would reconsider the reduction in Scott’s obligation upon evidence from Robyn that her loss of income was justifiable rather than due to an unwillingness to work. However, instead of providing the necessary evidence to the trial court, Robyn appealed the decision to the California Court of Appeal. Robyn argued that the trial court had abused its discretion by using Robyn’s earning capacity to support the modification order because she was unemployed at the time of the modification.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (King, J.)
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