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Tentative Ruling
Judge Thomas Anderle
Department 3 SB-Anacapa
1100 Anacapa Street P.O. Box 21107 Santa Barbara, CA 93121-1107


James Cornell and Martha Cornell

Case No: 1301646
Hearing Date: Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:30

Nature of Proceedings: Motion CS/SS

(12) James Cornell and Martha Cornell This case comes to this Courtroom after a decision from Commissioner Motter. This case has apparently been extensively litigated; both parties are self-represented. On June 24, 2013 father filed a RFO seeking modification of child support and spousal support orders including a judicial determination of child and spousal support arrears; determination of sum certain as reimbursement for payments of consumer debt and revision of consumer debt requirements. Apparently he lives in Unionville, Pa; he provides a mailing address as James Cornell, P.O. Box 586. Routinely he apparently appears by telephone. He filed a declaration and specifically made the following requests: A. Confirming that pursuant to the MSA his child support and spousal support obligations from January 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, (the “Contested Period”) and thereafter are as set forth in Annex A (or a modification consistent with Annex A as of the earliest practicable date). B. Determining the amount of his child and spousal support arrears. C. Determining a sum certain as reimbursement for his payments of “Martha’s Share.” D. Revising the MSA’s Consumer Debt requirements. Father filed voluminous paperwork including his declaration that is 10 pages long with Exhibits 1 through Exhibit 5 attached. On 10/15/13 mother filed a responsive declaration; she did not consent to the orders requested. On 10/21/13 she filed a financial declaration. Father did not file a reply. On 10/30/13 Commissioner Motter filed her Tentative Order on the matter after taking it under submission. I have read the ruling; in substance the matter comes here because mother requested it; that is clearly her prerogative. Commissioner Motter ruled only on the issue of child support and determination of support arrearages collected through the DCSS; all remaining matters were forwarded to this Trial Court. She opined that the last sentence of the MSA filed in 2009 provides that the parties’ agreement was that either parent could request retroactive modification of support up or down, effective in the semi-monthly period of the change in circumstances, regardless of when the change is reported; currently father is requesting a reduction in support, and the MSA appears to give him that ability. She ordered that father’s request to retroactively modify support was granted. Additionally, father requested that he be given credit against support arrearages for payments made against community debt that were assigned to the Mother; mother argues that such credit can be given against spousal support, but not against child support. Commissioner Motter opined that any credit against support arrearages for payments made against community debt was “reserved to the Trial Court.” Commissioner Motter opined that the DCSS may elect not to participate in the modification of child support under the terms of the MSA; if DCSS elects not to be involved in the modification process, all issues will be forwarded to the Trial Court for determination; DCSS may elect to enforce collection after the arrearages have been determined by the Trial Court. She said that DCSS would advise the parents and the Court of its position in the matter and if DCSS elected to participate in the modification of child support, appropriate discovery and calendaring would be addressed on 12/9/13. On 12/4/13 mother asked the Court to reconsider its Tentative Order dated October 29 (sic), 2013; in summary she disagreed with the Commissioner’s ruling that the father’s request to retroactively modify support should be granted. The file makes it clear Commissioner Motter’s findings and orders were addressed at the 12/9/13 hearing; her Minute Order states that her Tentative Ruling filed 10/30/13 was adopted and the remaining issues shall be heard in Department 3; a Short Form Order After Hearing was filed on 12/9/13; the matter was continued to 12/17/13 in Department 3 for the following purposes only: “Motion: Child support and spousal support;” additionally it appears clear that DCSS elected not to be involved in the modification process because the Court ordered that DCSS shall not participate in the instant motion but shall provide enforcement services. There have been no further documents filed in the case since 12/9/13. Rulings: 1. Mother’s request for reconsideration of the Tentative Orders filed by Commissioner Motter was apparently denied by the Commissioner when she set this matter for this Court; in any event, I, too find that mother has not shown the necessary facts to justify reconsideration under the stringent rules required for reconsideration requests. I note that although mother referred to the Tentative Rulings as being dated October 29, 2013 the only Tentative Rulings filed are dated October 30, 2013. 2. At the hearing on 12/17 mother said she wanted to file additional documentation and would do that on or before January 21, 2014; that will be permitted; any reply from father is due March 4, 2014; no further documentation other than set out herein is invited or anticipated; the hearing is set for March 18, 2014, at 10:30 am. 3. The Court’s Tentative Ruling on the matter will be posted on this Court’s web page, as I routinely do with all my cases, at least by 3 pm the Monday before the calendar is called. Each party will have either reviewed the tentative on my web page or reviewed the one available in the Courtroom before the calendar is called.
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