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Family Law Blog

Steps to Collect Back Child Support Payments in San Diego

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If you are a custodial parent, you are eligible to receive child support payments from the non-custodial parent. These payments are designed to help provide financial support to the custodial parent to assist in providing care and support for the children.

Child support can be sought for all children under 18 years old, or those still attending high school. Unfortunately, an oral agreement between both parents is not enough to ensure child support payment, and is also not enforceable by the courts in California.

It is highly recommended that you obtain a Child Support Order from the San Diego courts. Continue Reading

Courthouses Which House Juvenile Dependency Departments Within San Diego County

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San Diego currently has three different courthouses, each of which is home to at least one Department set aside for Juvenile Dependency Hearings.

The main Juvenile Courthouse is at 2851 Meadowlark Drive in central San Diego. This Courthouse is often known as the Meadowlark Juvenile Court because the Courthouse itself is tabbed to hear only matters involving children. Three Juvenile Dependency departments are strictly for Juvenile Dependency, although, on occasion, Child Welfare cases will go to the Assistant Presiding or Presiding Judge’s Courtroom for a hearing. However, this usually only occurs during the holidays or when a Judge assigned to a Juvenile Dependency courtroom is out.

The Juvenile Dependency Business Office is located on the 2nd Floor while all the courtrooms are on the 1st floor.  This Courthouse offers free parking in the main lot but has no vending machines or cafeterias.

As to San Diego’s East County Division, one Juvenile Dependency Department hears only Child Welfare cases. This court is located at 250 East Main Street in El Cajon. Both the Juvenile Business Office for East County and the one courtroom are on the 6th floor. This courthouse has vending machines containing light snacks and beverages on the main floor and second floor. Free parking is sometimes available in the Courthouse parking lot.

A Coffee Cart on the sidewalk between the Courthouse and Magnolia Theater is sometimes open in the mornings, allowing for fresh made caffeinated beverages as well as an array of pastries. However, when a Jury Trial is taking place, the lot becomes crowded and visitors often need to park on the street. Some of the streets only have two hour parking, so make sure to take note of any signage and move your car, when needed.

One Department in North County is utilized exclusively for child welfare proceedings.  Although this courthouse was recently renovated, the Juvenile Dependency Courtroom was not one of the renovated spaces.

This courthouse often has enough spaces in the parking lot for all visitors, but driving the lot a few times to find a space is sometimes required. The Cafeteria/Deli in this Courthouse serves beverages, pastries, sandwiches, and other snacks.

Both the Central Courthouse and Chula Vista Courthouse used to each have a Juvenile Dependency Courtroom. Those Departments were closed around 2018, before the COVID pandemic.

Child Abuse in San Diego County

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During the Summer of 2023, the County of San Diego began implementation of their newly created Child and Family Well-Being Department. Branded as a “new approach” to empowering parents, child, and extended family support, the goal is to utilize resources to strengthen the family unit and address issues that may lead to abuse or neglect.

Ideally, the unit is tasked with reducing child protective actions, and most notably, actions that separate children from their families, with a cross-sector collaborative approach.

Child Welfare Services, Behavioral Health Services, Juvenile Probation, San Diego County Office of Education, First Five, along with community based organizations, tribal partners and families with relevant lived experiences worked together to create the structure of the organization and the implementation of the overall plan.

Accessing plan prevention resources seems simple enough.  Resources can be accessed by self-referral, probation, CWS or CPS (including a hotline referral),  or any of the numerous community partners. From there, the family will need to actually utilize the services provided in the Prevention Hub.

Sometimes, issues persist. Sometimes, although some in the family are committed to making the family stronger, others are not, or different people have different approaches.  At times, families do not believe their children are truly at risk, when contacted.  Some families, choose other forms of assistance.  Some, do not get any help. 

However, when child welfare believes that children are being abused or neglected or at significant risk for abuse or neglect, CWS will still file a petition to remove the child. If reasonable efforts can be made to keep a minor in the home, those efforts should be taken to keep the minor in the home.  Yet, if the family has a history of declining services or is unwilling to collaborate with CWS, that may be enough to determine that no reasonable efforts would quash the situation.

From the start of the first contact, you can hire an attorney! 

You do not need to speak with anyone without an attorney present. But that attorney should be an experienced child welfare attorney. Julie is a Child Welfare Legal Specialist, a designation by the State Bar of California, the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC), and the American Bar Association. Julie has not only passed a written test but undergone a review from peers to attain and maintain the child welfare legal specialist certificate.

Minella Law Group can help, consulting with an experienced family law attorney who understands the issues can help alleviate your worries, contact us today for a complimentary consultation.