By Colin Anderson, Lead Attorney, Yolo County DCSS
Nothing is as constant as change. Child support law is no exception. On September 18, 2018, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 3248 in to law. These new laws promise some interesting changes to Child Support here in California. The following are the highlights from AB 3248:
- Section 3901 of the California Family Code has been amended to include the following language, “A child is excused from the requirement to be a full-time high school student for the purposes of Paragraph (1) if the child has a medical condition documented by a physician that prevents full-time school attendance.” This is yet another wrinkle concerning when the duty to provide child support actually ends. Generally, the parents’ duty to support their child(ren) ended when the child turned 18. The exception being that if a child had turned 18 but was still enrolled in high school, section 3901 allowed support to continue until graduation. A caveat was that it could not continue past 19 years of age. A common sense reading of the new amendment requires the duty of child support to continue even if the child is not a full-time high school student when he or she has a medical condition that prevents him or her from full-time attendance. This amendment appears to be irrelevant if the child has already graduated from high school.
- The next change pertains to access to Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) papers and records. Section 7643 of the California Family Code was amended to allow local child support offices (LCSAs) to inspect or make copies of papers and records relating to the establishment of paternity under the UPA. This is really good news as the old statute denied LCSAs access to those files, absent some type of informal agreement/arrangement between an LCSA and local court
- There are many changes to the way the courts are doing business these days. One of the biggest changes is electronic filing or “e-filing.” The previous law authorized the court to make a requirement that all civil documents be e-filed. This law gave the Department of Child Support Services an exemption until January 1, 2019, from the requirement. Obviously, January 1, 2019, is fast approaching. AB 3248 gives DCSS an extension of the exemption from the requirement for mandatory e-filing until January 1, 2021. More to come on e-filing and the progress the state is making on this issue.
- The final change that AB 3248 brings is Section 5614 of the California Family Code. This amendment relates to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) and removing the notice requirement on private child support collections where a direct deposit account is established. There is also language about undistributed child support collections, including interest, being transferred to the Department of Child Support Services and placed in the Child Support Payment Trust Fund. These amendments relate to private orders and should have limited impact on your LCSA.
Some of these changes are technical but they all impact the way we do business in the state. We as LCSAs will need to continue to adapt as we encounter change to our traditional way of doing business. Technical advancements provide opportunities for improved efficiency, more responsive customer service, and expanded partnerships with the courts and other stakeholders.