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In Re the Marriage of Paula F. and Terry L. Ferguson. v. Terry L. Ferguson

April 27, 2012


(Super. Ct. No. FL03970)

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

Marriage of Ferguson



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Terry L. Ferguson (Father) appeals from court orders sanctioning him $2,500 pursuant to Family Code section 271,*fn1 compelling him to open an interest-bearing, secured child support account pursuant to sections 4560, 4561, and 4562, and ordering him to comply with the court's prior order to pay one-half of his children's unreimbursed medical expenses. Finding none of Father's claims to have merit, we shall affirm the trial court's orders.


Paula F. Ferguson (Mother) and Father were married in 1994 and separated in 2005. Together they have four minor children. In June 2007, Mother filed an amended petition to dissolve their marriage. Following eight days of trial in March, April, and May 2009, a judgment on reserved issues was entered on September 17, 2009 (the 2009 Judgment on Reserved Issues).

Included in the 2009 Judgment on Reserved Issues was an order that Father pay to Mother child support totaling $1,552 per month beginning June 1, 2009. Father also was ordered to pay half of all reasonable, unreimbursed healthcare expenses for the children, as well as half of all job-related child care expenses as additional child support. Judicial Council form FL-192, entitled "Notice of Rights and Responsibilities--Health-Care Costs and Reimbursement Procedures," was attached to the 2009 Judgment on Reserved Issues.

The 2009 Judgment on Reserved Issues also included a 29-page attachment addressing several related issues, set forth in relevant part, as follows:

"41. [Father's] payment of timely child support has been an issue in this case . . . . [P]ursuant to Family Code Section 4560 [Father] shall make a child support security deposit in the sum of $18,624.00 which represents one year of child support under the current order. This interest-bearing account shall be established and set up at a state or federally chartered and insured financial institution, in accordance with Family Code Sections 4561-4567.

"42. The deposit account is to be used exclusively to guarantee the payment of child support and does not relieve [Father] of his monthly obligation to timely pay child support as ordered. Evidence of the deposit shall be filed with the Court Clerk within 30 days of entry of [j]udgment pursuant to Family Code Section 4562 and so as to afford [Father] notice and opportunity to be heard as required by Family Code Section 4565. The Court findings and order regarding the distribution of joint funds held in trust has been made to account for the above order.

"43. As and for additional child support the parties shall equally pay one[-]half of all reasonable and necessary uninsured health care costs incurred for the children including medical, dental, orthodontic and vision. When seeking reimbursement from the other parent the parties shall follow the procedures outlined in Family Code Section 4063 and contained in the notice of rights and responsibilities, attached to this [j]udgment."

In dividing up the community estate, Father and Mother sold real property. The money derived from those sales was held in trust by Mother's attorney, Joseph Bell.

In August 2009, the trial court ordered Father to contact the children's orthodontist directly and arrange a payment schedule for orthodontic work recommended for the parties' oldest son.

In October 2009, Father filed a motion regarding the funds contained in Attorney Bell's trust account. Father also asked for sanctions against Bell and Mother. The matter was set for a long cause hearing on October 27, 2009.

On October 27, 2009, Father appeared in propria persona at the hearing on his motion; Mother appeared with Attorney Bell. The Sierra Nevada Regional Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) also appeared in order to address questions regarding child support payments received and the amount of child support arrearages. The child support issues were resolved; the remaining issues were continued to a later hearing in November 2009, then again to December 2009, and finally to January 19, 2010, when the matters were finally submitted.

On January 19, 2010, after the long cause hearing on Father's motion concluded, Father made a statement to the court "regarding the trust account he opened with three years of child support as ordered by the Court's ruling. No money has been transferred. He requests transfer to occur." Then there was a discussion off the record among the parties, the court, and counsel. The trial court then stated for the record that, "if there is an issue regarding ...

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