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County of Tehama et al v. Derek Todd


April 16, 2012


(Super. Ct. No. FL64944)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Butz , J.

County of Tehema v. Todd



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Defendant Derek Todd brings this pro se judgment roll appeal from a family court judgment that he pay $80 per month in child support for his son.

Because he has failed to demonstrate error, we shall affirm.


The limited record on appeal establishes that Todd and Crystal Williams are the parents of one son. The child lives with Williams and, with the exception of a single month, Todd spent no visitation time with his son between August 2010 and April 2011.

At some time prior to May 2001, the County of Tehama filed an action to establish Todd's child support obligation; the complaint is not in the record on appeal. Todd answered, and opposed the County's proposed child support order. He filed an income and expense declaration averring that his only cash income, $661 per month, comes from disability payments.

A child support hearing was held July 21, 2011. The County, Williams and Todd appeared; no reporter's transcript of that hearing appears in the record. The trial court's "Ruling re Child Support" states that, after it conducted an "inquiry," it concluded Todd should receive a "deduction" from his income for the support expense paid for his child from another relationship, and that he must pay $80 per month in guideline child support for his son with Williams.


Todd contends the court failed to make the low-income adjustment to his child support obligation contemplated by the applicable statute. A proper application of that adjustment, he argues, would reduce his monthly child support obligation from $80 to $37.78.

On the record available on this judgment roll appeal, we find no reversible error.

I. Applicable Standards of Review

Child support orders are reviewed for an abuse of discretion. (In re Marriage of Cheriton (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 269, 282.) In this appeal from the court's support order, Todd has elected to proceed on a clerk's transcript. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.120.) No reporter's transcript of the hearing in this contested matter appears in the record on appeal.

In any appeal, we must presume the trial court's judgment, or order, is correct. (See Denham v. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 557, 564.) In service of that rule, we adopt all intendments and inferences to affirm the judgment or order unless the record expressly contradicts them. (See Brewer v. Simpson (1960) 53 Cal.2d 567, 583.)

It is the burden of the party challenging a judgment or order on appeal to provide an adequate record to assess error. (Ketchum v. Moses (2001) 24 Cal.4th 1122, 1140-1141.) Thus, an appellant must not present just an analysis of the facts and legal authority on each point made; he or she must support arguments with appropriate citations to the material facts in the record. If an appellant fails to do so, the argument is forfeited. (County of Solano v. Vallejo Redevelopment Agency (1999) 75 Cal.App.4th 1262, 1274; Duarte v. Chino Community Hospital (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 849, 856.)

Todd is not exempt from the rules governing appeals because he is representing himself in propria persona. A party representing himself is to be treated like any other party and is entitled to the same, but no greater, consideration than other litigants having attorneys. (Nwosu v. Uba (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 1229, 1246-1247; see Leslie v. Board of Medical Quality Assurance (1991) 234 Cal.App.3d 117, 121 [self-represented parties are held to "the same 'restrictive procedural rules as an attorney'"].)

Because Todd provides us with only a clerk's transcript, we must treat this as an appeal "on the judgment roll." (Allen v. Toten (1985) 172 Cal.App.3d 1079, 1082-1083; Krueger v. Bank of America (1983) 145 Cal.App.3d 204, 207.) Therefore, we "'must conclusively presume that the evidence is ample to sustain the [trial court's] findings.'" (Ehrler v. Ehrler (1981) 126 Cal.App.3d 147, 154 (Ehrler).) Our review is limited to determining whether any error "appears on the face of the record." (In re Marriage of Hall (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 313, 316; Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.163.)

II. Todd Has Failed to Show Reversible Error

In California there is a "statewide uniform guideline for determining child support orders." (Fam. Code, § 4055, subd. (a);*fn1 see In re Marriage of Katzberg (2001) 88 Cal.App.4th 974, 979-980.) Section 4055 sets forth the uniform guideline formula

for child support determinations; this guideline is an algebraic formula.*fn2 If the court orders child support in an amount other than that directed by applying the guideline formula, it must state "in writing or on the record" the reasons why the amount of support ordered differs from the guideline amount. (§ 4056, subd. (a)(2); In re Marriage of Hall, supra, 81 Cal.App.4th at p. 316.)

Section 4055, subdivision (b)(7) provides that, if the obligor parent's net disposable income per month is less than $1,000, "there shall be a rebuttable presumption" that the obligor parent is entitled to a low-income adjustment, but the presumption "may be rebutted by evidence showing that the application of the low-income adjustment would be unjust and inappropriate in the particular case." (See City & County of San Francisco v. Miller (1996) 49 Cal.App.4th 866, 869.)

Todd is correct that the trial court made no low-income adjustment to his support obligation. The record on appeal includes the computer-generated child support guideline calculation; that document, on its face, shows no low-income adjustment was made.

But this omission constitutes error only if the presumption to which Todd would otherwise have been entitled by virtue of his low monthly income was not "rebutted by evidence showing that the application of the low-income adjustment would be unjust and inappropriate" in this case. (Cf. Fam. Code, § 4055, subd. (b)(7).) On a judgment roll appeal, as we have explained, our review is limited to error that appears on the face of the record. (See In re Marriage of Hall, supra, 81 Cal.App.4th at p. 316.) We presume official duties have been regularly performed (Evid. Code, § 664), and this presumption applies to the actions of trial judges (see People v. Duran (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 1448, 1461-1462, fn. 5; Olivia v. Suglio (1956) 139 Cal.App.2d 7, 9 ["If the invalidity does not appear on the face of the record, it will be presumed that what ought to have been done was not only done but rightly done."]). Without a reporter's transcript, we must conclusively presume the trial court properly found that it would be unjust and inappropriate to grant Todd a low-income adjustment (Fam. Code, § 4056, subd. (a)(2)), and that sufficient evidence was introduced to rebut the presumption in favor of granting him the adjustment. (Ehrler, supra, 126 Cal.App.3d at p. 154.)

Because the record does not show error by the court, we cannot reverse the support order.


The judgment of the trial court (child support order) is affirmed. The parties shall bear their own costs on appeal. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.278(a)(1), (2), (5).)

We concur: NICHOLSON , Acting P. J. HOCH , J.

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