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VALERIE WINDSOR v. DEBORAH A. KHORA

November 29, 2010

VALERIE WINDSOR, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
DEBORAH A. KHORA, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT; EL DORADO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blease, Acting P.J.

Windsor v. Khora CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

(El Dorado)

----

Defendant Deborah A. Khora appeals from an order registering a New Jersey child support order, and from a subsequent seek-work order.

Defendant appears without counsel. However, we must apply ordinary appellate procedural rules regardless of whether a party has employed counsel. (Rappleyea v. Campbell (1994) 8 Cal.4th 975, 984-985; see Doran v. Dreyer (1956) 143 Cal.App.2d 289, 290.) Defendant heads 13 arguments in her opening brief. As we shall explain, many of these arguments are forfeited because defendant has not adhered to ordinary appellate rules, and we reject the arguments we deem properly tendered or otherwise elect to address on the merits. We shall affirm.

BACKGROUND

The facts and procedure stated in defendant's briefing are largely unintelligible, and she partly relies on material that is not properly before us, but the following background can be gleaned from the record and the briefing.

Defendant married Louis Ventre. They had three children, then divorced in Florida. The 1992 Florida decree gave Ventre custody of the children, and provided that defendant was not liable for child support. Later, a New Jersey court gave custody of the children to plaintiff Valerie Windsor, Ventre's sister. In 1998, after plaintiff had obtained public assistance benefits, a New Jersey court made a child support order against defendant, then known as Deborah Hinds. This order was modified from time to time in New Jersey. The record shows defendant made some payments pursuant to this order in 1999 and 2000, but it does not show that she ever attacked the order in New Jersey.

On January 8, 2009, the El Dorado County Department of Child Support Services (Department) filed a notice of registration of the New Jersey support order in El Dorado County, where defendant now resides. The stated child support arrearages were $43,412.40.

On January 23, 2009, defendant requested a hearing on the registration issue, contending the New Jersey support order was obtained by unspecified fraud, her divorce agreement relieved her of child support liability, and some or all of the arrearages were unenforceable because no children reside with plaintiff. Her request stated a hearing date of February 23, 2009, a full month away.

At the hearing on February 23, 2009, plaintiff appeared by telephone. (See Fam. Code, § 4930, subds. (a) & (f).) Defendant objected that "Nobody has come forward to speak for the state of New Jersey. They're an interested party." The trial court (York, J.) stated, "It's a judgment. You're not litigating whether or not you owe it, it is whether or not the judgment is going to be recognized in California. If you want to go back behind the judgment, you would need to go back to the New Jersey court. We're not going to relitigate what happened in New Jersey in California."

Defendant stated she had "sufficient evidence today to prove this registration to enforce child support cannot be enforced without multiple violations of the law"; however, when the trial court asked defendant for an offer of proof, defendant merely said "it would take a long time. I would have to ask for a continuance. A hearing on that would probably last at least an hour."

The Department's counsel stated that it was acting on New Jersey's request for enforcement, and therefore "having New Jersey added as a party makes no difference at all as we're enforcing on their behalf."

Plaintiff and the Department's counsel stated that although plaintiff stopped receiving public aid once the children reached age 18, under New Jersey law, child support can continue past age 18 if the children are attending college.

We note that "the issuing state's law governs the 'nature, extent, amount, and duration of current payments' to be enforced under an existing order, as well as the computation and payment of arrearages and accrual of interest thereon." (Hogoboom & King, Cal. Practice Guide: Family Law (The Rutter Group 2010) ¶ 18:727, p. 18-190, quoting Fam. Code, § 4953, subd. (a).)

Defendant then asserted her Florida divorce precluded her liability for child support. When she explained that New Jersey had made a mistake in ordering her to pay money to a heroin addict, the trial court told her: "You're paying on behalf of the children, wherever the children reside. If you have a complaint where the children reside, you need to take that up on a timely basis."

The trial court then ordered registration of the New Jersey judgment, so far as "back child support" was concerned, but reserved the issue of its validity regarding amounts accrued after the children turned 18, pending a hearing on the law regarding support for college-attending adult children.

Defendant said she was going to sue plaintiff for damages, and the trial court advised her, "That's a private dispute. You need to do that separately."

On March 9, 2009, the trial court (Shepherd, Comr.) ordered defendant to pay $106 in child support and $5 towards the arrearages per week, and ruled the trial court lacked authority to modify the New Jersey order.

On March 25, 2009, defendant filed a notice of appeal. Attached to the notice of appeal is a legal brief. Because this document was not before the trial court when the appealed order was made, we disregard it. "It is an elementary rule of appellate procedure that, when reviewing the correctness of a trial court's judgment, an appellate court will consider only matters which were part of the record at the ...


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