Criminal Penalties for Failure to Pay Child Support

Articles by Carina Castañeda 20 October 2014

Why are the states and the federal government using criminal penalties for delinquent child support obligors?  Both state and federal laws targeting parents who willfully fail to pay child support to be criminally prosecuted are gaining support in the legislatures, the courts, and the public.  Child support experts and policymakers are differentiating between those who “can’t pay” and those who “won’t pay.”  Nationwide, the states are developing and using more aggressive enforcement mechanisms to pursue those who simply refuse to pay.

A  United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling captures the prevailing judicial sentiment against evading parents:  “it is just as much a violation of the CFRA [Child Support Recovery Act] for a non-custodial parent to fail to pay child support where his refusal to work is motivated by sloth, a change of lifestyles or pursuit of new career objectives. For most people, bring children into the world does limit life choices by imposing certain long-term financial obligations. U.S. v. Ballek, 1999 WL 125955 (9th Circ. (Alaska), Mar. 11, 1999) (NO. 97-30326).

State and federal prosecutors target parents who purposely hide assets, avoid employment or otherwise shirk their responsibilities. States such as Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia, have conducted high profile trials and “sting” operations to locate and prosecute parents with large child support debts – in some cases several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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Sealing Arrest Record

Articles by Carina Castañeda 13 October 2014

Many people have the misconception that if their case was never filed by the prosecutorial agency or if their case was dismissed, the arrest records no longer exist. I just had a call from an attorney that wants a client’s arrest record to “disappear.” The only way to do this is to seal the arrest record.

In fact, some employers can discover prior criminal conduct by simply searching for your name at any courthouse or online government sites.  Most criminal cases are easily accessible because they are deemed public information.  There is also a whole industry devoted to developing creative ways to obtain and sell private or derogatory information about individuals. Some of these buyers are insurance companies, banks and credit lenders, potential employers, landlords etc.

We all know a criminal record could prove to be a nightmare but even a mere arrest is subject to being disclosed. The record of the arrest such as the police report, booking documents such as fingerprints and photo, case disposition, still exists unless you move to have your records sealed.  The entire paper trail of your arrest will be sealed and destroyed if you file a request with the arresting agency.

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Going Through a Divorce Without an Attorney

Articles by Carina Castañeda 06 October 2014

Not having the funds to retain an attorney is a source of great anxiety for many family law litigants.  Proceeding without an attorney can have negative economic consequences. It is already an emotional issue and it seems even more impossible to navigate and comply with the strict guidelines required in a divorce case. 

Without a skilled advocate to guide you, the hurt or anger you feel may not be expressed properly or at all.  How do you get an attorney retained, and paid through to the conclusion of the proceedings? 

Are you entitled to use your funds or monies held in joint bank accounts? Are you allowed to access a joint credit card? Maybe you need to borrow money from friends or family to retain an attorney and how do these people get paid? Should your spouse contribute toward your fees? What does it take to obtain a court order for attorney fees and what do judges consider? Will a lawyer accept a lien on real estate?  These are common questions asked when deciding to go through a divorce alone or with an attorney.

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Visitation Orders Enforceable by Contempt in Divorce Proceedings

Articles by Carina Castañeda 26 September 2014

As many of you have read, I recently successfully defended a client who was alleged to have violated 81 (yes 81) separate incidences of a family law visitation order. To say that it was complex and lengthy is putting it mildly but luckily the judge that presided over the case was a very experienced family law judge and was able to see the core legal and factual issues of the case.

To hold a person in contempt, the order must be in writing and must also be definitive; otherwise it lacks the certainty required to punish through a proceeding regarded as criminal or quasi criminal. What is “contempt of court?” When a party is ordered to do something and fails to do it, the other party can file a Contempt of Court Order to Show Cause.

The judge then determines if the party is in contempt of a court order. If a party is found in contempt, the judge will sentence as appropriate. The punishment can include, fine, community service and imprisonment. The “accused” is afforded constitutional guarantees, including the right to remain silent and a right to a jury trial. 

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Winning Trial Attorney

Articles by Carina Castañeda 25 September 2014

Winning Trial Atty

Media Appearances

Atty. Castañeda: Visionary, Leader and Pioneer

As the high school student body president, Atty. Castañeda was eager to pursue leadership roles on a bigger scale. At University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), she was active in university politics, various organizations such as Samahang Pilipino and a national sorority. She graduated with honors in both History and Philosophy.

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Awards & Recognition