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How to Make a Spouse Pay Child Support

December 10, 1988|JUDGE B. TAM NOMOTO | B. Tam Nomoto, an Orange County Municipal Court judge, today begins a column in which she will answer readers' questions about the law. Ask the Judge will run every other Saturday in Orange County Life.

Q My ex-husband refuses to give me any money for our children. I'm tired of arguing with him and figuring out ways to make ends meet. How can I get some money out of him?

W.E.R. A You can file a criminal complaint with the district attorney's office in your county against your ex-husband for failure to support the children. He could face a maximum of 1 year in the county jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,000.

The chance of your ex-husband initially going to jail is slim. Courts feel that the primary goal is to force defendants such as your ex-husband to pay support. This goal would be defeated if he went to jail since he would not be able to work.

The normal way to handle these cases is to force the defendant to pay monthly support by putting him on formal probation. A probation officer would monitor the payments and report to the court if the defendant willfully fails to pay. At that time, the court may impose jail time to deter him from further uncooperative behavior.

If your divorce decree provided an amount for child support, you could also bring your husband to court for failing to obey that order. You should contact the Superior Court that granted your divorce for information on how to enforce that order.

Q I took my new silk blouse to the cleaners. When I picked it up, it had large yellow spots on it. My friends tell me that I should sue in small claims court since the blouse was very expensive. How do I do that, and can I get back the $100 I paid for it?

K.I.J. A First determine whether the cleaners will compensate you for the blouse. Some cleaners will pay the value of a garment that has been irreparably damaged. If you can't solve your problem that way, you can take the matter to small claims court.

Small claims court deals with claims that are $1,500 or less. You cannot be represented by an attorney, and you must present or defend your own case.

The first thing you should do is contact the small claims division of the Municipal Court in the area in which your cleaners is located. They will instruct you and give you the proper forms to fill out to bring your case to court.

When your day in court arrives, be prepared to present your story as simply and clearly as possible to the judge. Since there are many small claims cases to be heard, your time is limited. It would be a good idea to bring the blouse and your cleaners' bill with you to show the judge.

The amount of money you will recover depends on the present value of your blouse. It is unlikely that you will receive the full $100 since the garment will have "depreciated" depending on the number of times you have worn it.

Q I was arrested for drunk driving for the first time. I am not proud of this fact, and am determined never to be in this position again. I went to court, and I noticed that they have charged me with two different things called 23152 (a) and 23152 (b) of the Vehicle Code. What are they talking about?

S.D.A. A Section 23152 (a) of the California Vehicle Code prohibits any person from driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. To be convicted of this offense, your driving must be such that you are unable to drive a motor vehicle with the ordinary care and caution of a prudent and sober person.

Section 23152 (b) forbids anyone to drive a motor vehicle with .10 or more of alcohol in his blood system regardless of whether his driving has been affected by alcohol. The alcohol level is determined by a urine, blood or breath test. If you refuse to take any one of these tests at the time of your arrest, your driver's license will be suspended for 1 year by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you decide to plead guilty, you will receive one punishment. Normally, a first offender whose driving did not result in an accident is placed on 3 years' unsupervised probation with conditions such as a fine, an alcohol program and a license restriction of 90 days.

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