(Super. Ct. No. 00FL00259)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blease, Acting P. J.
Marriage of Jackson and Pipes
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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.
Mother Jocelyn R. Jackson appeals from a postjudgment order directing her to pay paternal grandmother Anita Ryder $1,213 per month in child support. She contends the trial court lacked authority to order her to pay child support to Ryder because Family Code section 3951, subdivision (a)*fn1 specifies that "[a] parent is not bound to compensate the other parent, or a relative, for the voluntary support of the parent's child, without an agreement for compensation." In the alternative, mother claims the order must be reversed because maternal grandmother Penny Watson's income was not included in the calculation of child support.
Ryder initially responds that mother's appeal is untimely because mother failed to appeal from an earlier order directing mother to pay Ryder back child support, and mother forfeited the issue by failing to raise it in the trial court. In the alternative, Ryder asserts mother's claim lacks merit because Ryder's support of H.J. was not voluntary and mother expressly agreed to pay guideline support as ordered by the court. As for the court's failure to include Watson's income in the calculation of child support, Ryder contends mother's claim is "premature because the support order was specifically made retroactively modifiable after discovery on that point and [mother] has neither conducted the discovery nor brought any motion to modify the child support order re [Watson]."*fn2
We shall conclude the appeal is timely. We shall assume, without deciding, that mother did not forfeit her claim by failing to timely raise it below and conclude it lacks merit because mother expressly agreed to pay guideline support as ordered by the court. As for the failure to include Watson's income in the calculation of support, we shall conclude the claim is premature. Accordingly, we shall affirm the trial court's April 24, 2009, order directing mother to pay Ryder $1,213 in child support beginning November 1, 2008.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Mother and father Jeffrey B. Pipes divorced in 2000, and mother was granted legal and physical custody of their then three-year-old daughter, H.J.
In April 2005, Ryder and Watson jointly moved to join the custody action and sought "ongoing and regular visitation" with H.J. Thereafter, Ryder and Watson were joined as claimants to the action.
On December 21, 2005, the court entered a "Stipulation and Order Re: Custody, Visitation, Child Support, Arrearages," which provided, among other things, that: H.J. would live with Ryder from February 1, 2006, until the end of the school year on June 10, 2006, while mother relocated from Sacramento to Paso Robles; and mother was not required to pay Ryder child support during the period H.J. resided with Ryder. In April 2006, before H.J. was to join mother in Paso Robles, mother's "parenting time" was suspended and mother was ordered to complete an in-patient chemical dependency treatment program.
In December 2006, Ryder filed a motion seeking "guideline" child support from mother.*fn3 She also sought to modify the December 21, 2005, order insofar as it specified that mother was not required to pay child support to Ryder while H.J resided with Ryder from February 1 to June 10, 2006. In her responsive declaration, mother "consent[ed] to guideline support." She did not mention section 3951, subdivision (a), nor did she oppose paying child support to Ryder on any other basis. Rather, she urged that "[a]ny child support orders should also apply to father."
On January 24, February 21 and 22, 2008, the issues of custody and visitation were tried to the court. In its written order, filed April 21, 2008, the trial court found "that granting custody to a parent would be detrimental to [H.J.] and granting custody . . . in part to nonparents is required to serve [H.J.'s] best interests pursuant to Family Code Section 3041." Accordingly, the court ordered that "[t]he parties shall have modified joint legal custody" and "shall share [H.J.'s] physical custody in such manner as to assure frequent and continuing contact with each parent and with the grandmothers." Specifically, Ryder was granted ...