San Mateo Cnty. Dep't of Child Support Servs.
v.
Randall

This case is not covered by Casetext's citator
COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FIRST APPELLATE DISTRICT DIVISION TWONov 6, 2018
A151856 (Cal. Ct. App. Nov. 6, 2018)

A151856

11-06-2018

SAN MATEO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. JEFFREY G. RANDALL, Respondent and Appellant, FANCHON BRIANNA CALDWELL Real Party in Interest.


NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115. (San Mateo County Super. Ct. Nos. 16FAM00587 & 16FAM00725)

Appellant Jeffrey G. Randall appeals in propria persona from the trial court's order establishing child support for his daughter G.E.C., based on petitions filed by respondent San Mateo County Department of Child Support Services (Department) (case No. 16FAM00587) and real party in interest Franchon Brianna Caldwell, G.E.C.'s mother (case No. 16FAM00725). On appeal, Randall contends the trial court (1) improperly imputed $1.5 million in income to him; (2) lacked jurisdiction to establish child support for G.E.C.; and (3) erred when it denied his motion to dismiss this matter to allow a pending paternity/support case regarding G.E.C. in Nevada to proceed. We shall affirm the court's child support order.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Most of the events occurring before Caldwell filed consolidated appeals in case Nos. FAM129072 and FAM0131885 are set forth in greater detail in our prior opinion in this matter. (Caldwell v. Randall (Mar. 29, 2018, A148053 & A149738) [nonpub. opn.].)

Randall and Caldwell are the unmarried parents of G.C., born in 2015, and G.E.C.—the subject of this appeal—born in 2016.

On October 15, 2015, in case No. FAM129072, the trial court (Hon. Susan Greenberg) issued an order after hearing granting Randall's motion to quash and dismiss Caldwell's consolidated petitions to establish parental relationship as to G.C. and then unborn G.E.C. after finding that Nevada was the home state of G.C.

On August 12, 2016, the Department filed a summons and complaint regarding parental obligations as to G.E.C. in case No. FAM00587. The Department requested that the court order Randall to pay Caldwell monthly guideline child support for G.E.C. in the amount of $13,142 per month based on Randall's then income of $250,000 and Caldwell's then income of $1,583 per month.

Meanwhile, on August 25, 2016, the family court in Nevada, which had previously made a temporary order for custody and support as to G.C., found that "it would be an inconvenient forum to address custody [of G.C.] in Nevada under the circumstances and that California is a more appropriate forum. There exists in California an entire life of evidence regarding the parties and their child(ren) and it would be in the child(ren)'s best interest that the California court address custody." The Nevada court stayed the matter on condition that a child custody proceeding be promptly commenced in California.

On August 26, 2016, Caldwell filed a petition for custody and child support with respect to G.C. and G.E.C. in case No. FAM00725, based on the Nevada court's order. On October 27, 2016, Randall filed a motion to dismiss and quash Caldwell's petition for custody and support based on lack of jurisdiction.

On August 30, 2016, in case No. FAM0131885, the trial court (Hon. Richard DuBois) granted Randall's motion to quash and dismiss Caldwell's petition to establish parental relationship, filed as to newborn G.E.C., stating that "[t]his court will not disturb, and will follow [Judge Greenberg's] Order Finding Lack of Jurisdiction, unless directed otherwise by the California Court of Appeal." The court also dismissed the Department's " 'matter on calendar . . . for lack of service.' "

On May 26, 2016, after Caldwell requested assistance with the establishment of child support, the Department had filed a declaration stating that it did not consent to Randall's requested order. On July 14, 2016, the Department filed an order to show cause (OSC) for child support, health care, and unreimbursed medical expenses in the case regarding G.E.C. (No. FAM0131885), which was pending before Judge DuBois, in which counsel informed the court that the Department intended to intervene in the case. Because Judge DuBois announced that the case would be dismissed on July 15, the day after the Department filed its OSC, it did not serve the OSC.

On November 8, 2016, the Department filed, again as to G.E.C., a motion for judgment for parentage, child support, health care, and one-half unreimbursed medical and dental expenses in case No. FAM00587.

On November 10, 2016, Randall filed a complaint to establish parentage, custody, visitation, and child support with respect to G.E.C. in the Nevada family court. The Nevada court dismissed the petition on December 27, 2016.

On November 16, 2016, Randall filed an amended motion to quash and dismiss the Department's complaint regarding parental obligations, based on lack of jurisdiction. On December 7, the court denied the motion, finding that California, not Nevada, had jurisdiction over G.E.C. The court further found that the Department was not a party to the previous case involving G.E.C. (No. FAM0131885), that it was not served with Randall's motion to quash and dismiss, and therefore that it was not subject to dismissal in that case.

On February 15, 2017, the court (Hon. Elizabeth M. Hill) found, as to G.E.C., that California had jurisdiction over child support. The court observed that the Nevada court had found that G.E.C. was born in California and had continuously resided in California since birth. The court concluded it had "a basis for exercising personal jurisdiction, given the Nevada court's finding which is entitled to full faith and credit that [G.E.C.] has resided in California her entire life. The court also has subject matter jurisdiction over child support related to [G.E.C.]." The court found, however, that it was precluded from addressing "issues of the court's jurisdiction over [G.E.C.'s] child support during the time period that is embraced by the appeals that are currently pending in the two prior actions that were filed and dismissed, those dismissals being on appeal. So the court's jurisdiction regarding the child support of [G.E.C.] is, at this point, specifically limited to the date of filing of this petition and, more specifically, the date of filing of the request for order wherein [Caldwell's attorney] first requested child support, which is September 6th of 2016."

The court found that the court in Nevada had issued the only child support order as to G.C., and that order was therefore the controlling order pursuant to Family Code section 5700.207, subdivision (a). This was based on a December 24, 2015 Nevada court temporary order for custody and child support. However, as noted, on August 25, 2016, the Nevada court stayed the matter after finding that Nevada would be an inconvenient forum.

At the hearing on the Department's and Caldwell's petitions for custody and child support with respect to G.E.C., which took place on May 16 and 17, 2017, the following evidence was presented at the hearing related to imputation of income. Randall began working at the law firm of Paul Hastings LLP in 2009. In 2013, while still at Paul Hastings, the adjusted annual gross income of Randall and his ex-wife was $4,128,270, and in 2014, his annual gross income was $2,899,708. Randall ended his relationship with Paul Hastings in December 2015. He became a partner at the firm of K&L Gates in September 2015. In 2015, he received a payment of $2.3 million from Paul Hastings, pursuant to a settlement agreement, as well $1,653,000 from K&L Gates, for a total combined 2015 income of approximately $3,950,000.

Caldwell's case (No. FAM00725) and the Department's case (No. FAM00587) were apparently consolidated for purposes of trial.

Randall had previously been a partner at Cooley Godward for several years in the late 1990's and early 2000's. He then was a partner at Skadden Arps from about 2004 to 2009, before moving to Paul Hastings.

In 2016, the gross income Randall received from K&L Gates was $1,791,665. Randall testified that this amount was not paid to him as a partner, but was made in return for his withdrawal from the firm and was more "like a third-party contractor receiving payment from a company." In addition, his productivity at the firm was very low. His "billable hours for all of 2015 and [2016] were under ten." There were also significant business-related expenses associated with his K&L Gates income, which reduced the actual income he received to "somewhere in the range of $250,000." He did not receive any payments in October, November, or December of 2016.

Although Randall lived in Incline Village, Nevada, he had leased a five-bedroom, four-and-one-half bathroom house in Atherton, California from approximately February 2015 to March 2017, which "was used for work purposes mainly." His monthly payments on the house were $8,000 although, due to habitability problems, he did not pay that much every month. He considered the rental payments on the house to be a business expense.

In 2016, Randall's monthly expenses included, inter alia, $1,417 per month for San Francisco Giants season tickets, $1,667 per month for Oregon Ducks season tickets, $833 per month for a California country club membership, $500 per month for an Olympic Club membership, and approximately $1,200 per month for an Oregon country club membership. In 2017, Randall's expenses included $3,000 per month in private high school tuition for an older daughter and $150 per month for entertainment, gifts and vacations, as well as annual expenses of $20,000 for San Francisco Giants season tickets, $6,000 for Oregon Ducks season tickets, and $4,000-$4,500 for a golf club membership. Randall had also taken three trips to Mexico and one trip to Scottsdale, Arizona in 2017.

Randall testified that he sold tickets for games he did not attend. He had kept the Giants season tickets for business purposes, but hoped to sell the rights to the tickets that year.

In terms of his "earning ability," Randall testified that "it is strong if I worked at a firm that had big cases that they were willing to hand me and I were to run those cases. I can do that, and I'm skilled at it and I'm not going to say I'm not. But if it means going out and developing that business from scratch with various high tech companies with in- house counsel . . . , it is a very difficult task and it is a long road to get that done." Randall testified that the other issue with respect to his employability was his need to commute between Nevada and California for visitation with his young daughters: "And I don't know of any jobs that are out there that pay millions of dollars for anybody who commutes all day, 10 to 12 hours a day, on Mondays and Fridays, and essentially is available to work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and that's it."

Five days after the hearing at which this evidence was presented, on May 22, 2017, the court made the following findings and orders. First, it found that during 2016, Randall had $137,818 per month available for child support and that he paid $35,000 per month in spousal support to his ex-wife, $10,000 per month in child support to his daughter from his former marriage, and $5,000 per month to G.C., G.E.C.'s older sister. The court declined to impute any income to Caldwell, based on testimony regarding her earning capacity and the fact that any expected earnings from full-time work would not exceed the amount she would pay for child care. Based on its guideline calculations, the court ordered Randall to pay $5,674 per month in child support for G.E.C., retroactive to the date of the filing of the petition, for the six-month period between September 2016 and February 2017.

With respect to the child support amount starting March 1, 2017, the court found that Randall had a two percent timeshare in terms of custody of G.E.C. In determining that it would impute income to Randall, as Caldwell and the Department urged it to do, the court made the following findings: "Mr. Randall in his testimony conceded that he has the ability to work; that he has been employed as a litigator at high levels in law firms, and that he retains the skill and capacity to continue to be a litigator under the right circumstances. He defined those circumstances as those which would not require him to maintain the types of contacts that he had previously had that he has lost during the last two periods of employment with his prior two firms, where, essentially, cases would be referred to him by the firm that he worked for rather than generated by himself.

"Mr. Randall expressed a willingness to work, but he indicated that the current time share arrangement and his desire to have a greater time share to be a full-time parent to his daughters limits his ability to work at the same level [of] compensation that he was previously receiving. [¶] While the court recognizes that he is taking on, particularly with [G.C.], a substantial amount of time share for the care of [G.C.], the court also can't help but notice that in the testimony regarding the logistical arrangements for child care, that progressively the ability to engage in child care in a way that does not require the travel that Mr. Randall complains of has been a result of his choices to terminate what he described as a work lease on a property in the Bay Area that he continued to maintain for what he alleged were business purposes, up and until—I believe it was up until March this year. [¶] A lot of the travel time he attributes to the court's orders regarding time share is equally attributable to his choice to give up that rental, which . . . essentially, is a choice that he made that impacts his opportunity to work under the circumstances that he has described, that that is a voluntary election on his part and not a function of the court's order.

"Now, further findings: Mr. Randall denied that he has the opportunity to work at the level of compensation that he has previously earned. The court specifically finds that that testimony was evasive, that there was—the court has trouble with the credibility of that statement, given that Mr. Randall indicated in testimony that he was working with headhunters, but when asked about offers, said he hadn't received anything he considered an offer and declined to be more specific that that when pressed.

"The court finds that Mr. Randall has the ability to work and the opportunity to work, and that it would be in the best interest of the child to impute to him income and that he has the willingness to work. So the court, in deciding what amount to attribute to Mr. Randall, was faced with competing arguments from Mother and from the [Department] regarding the appropriate level of attribution. [¶] Mother's attorney urged the court to go further back in the historical pattern of Mr. Randall's income, where the amounts were much higher than in the two most recent years available to the court. The court declines to accept that invitation from Mother's counsel.

"Mr. Randall's description of the circumstances under which he left his prior employment suggests that as time has passed and the circumstances he described regarding the politics at his firm and the type of work that he was doing, as well as the destruction of relationships that he had previously had with clients, means that he doesn't bring the book of business that makes him as recruitable as it previously did when he was employed with his prior firms.

"And so the court is going to attribute income at the level suggested and argued by [the Department], finding that is—and the [Department's] method was attribution of an annual income of 1.5 million, which is slightly lower than and consistent with the last two years of amounts of payments received from Mr. Randall's firm, and results in a monthly other taxable income of $125,000. [¶] So that results in a temporary child support calculation going forward with the court's other findings, effective March 1st, 2017. Mr. Randall is obligated to pay to Ms. Caldwell for support of [G.E.C.] $4,885 per month in temporary child support. . . ."

Finally, the court reiterated its belief that it had jurisdiction to adjudicate the child support issues involving G.E.C., notwithstanding Randall's observation that an appeal was pending on that issue.

On June 30, 2017, Randall filed a notice of appeal from the court's May 22, 2017 order.

On September 13, 2017, the court filed its statement of decision and findings and orders after hearing.

On February 16, 2018, Randall filed an amended notice of appeal.

On March 26, 2018, this court granted Randall's unopposed request for judicial notice of its own docket and the briefs filed by the parties in related appeals.

In a March 29, 2018 unpublished opinion, a panel of this Division reversed the trial courts' orders granting Randall's motions to quash and dismiss Caldwell's petitions to establish parental relationship in the prior cases (Nos. FAM129072 and FAM0131885). Finding that (1) Judge Greenberg had failed to comply with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) requirements (Fam. Code, § 3400, et seq.; see § 3424, subd. (d)) and that Caldwell was prejudiced thereby, and (2) that Judge DuBois was not bound by Judge Greenberg's order in determining G.E.C.'s home state, we remanded the matters to the trial court for a de novo jurisdictional determination as to G.C. and G.E.C., in light of the Nevada court's finding that "it would be an inconvenient forum to address custody in Nevada under the circumstances and that California is a more appropriate forum."

All further statutory references are to the Family Code unless otherwise indicated.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

"A trial court child support order is reviewed under the abuse of discretion standard of review, and the trial court's findings of fact in connection with a child support order under the substantial evidence standard of review. [Citation.] 'To the extent the trial court's decision reflects an interpretation of a statute, it presents a question of law that we review de novo.' [Citation.]" (In re Marriage of Zimmerman (2010) 183 Cal.App.4th 900, 906-907.)

II. Imputation of Income

Randall contends the court improperly imputed $1.5 million in income to him. Specifically, he claims (1) his due process rights were violated when he received no advance notice about the possible imputation of income to him, (2) Caldwell and the Department failed to satisfy their burden of providing any evidence or legal authority to support a request to impute income, and (3) the court erred in extending Randall's 2016 income into the first two months of 2017.

" 'California has a strong public policy in favor of adequate child support. [Citations.] That policy is expressed in statutes embodying the statewide uniform child support guideline. (See [§§] 4050-4076.) "The guideline seeks to place the interests of children as the state's top priority." (§ 4053, subd. (e).)' " (In re Marriage of Sorge (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 626, 640.) Courts are therefore required to calculate child support under the statutory guidelines by applying a mathematical formula to the parents' incomes. (Ibid.)

A.

Randall first argues that his due process rights were violated by the court's and parties' failure to provide any advance notice that he could be subject to a child support obligation based on his imputed income.

"The primary purpose of procedural due process is to provide affected parties with the right to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner. [Citation.] It does not guarantee any particular procedure but is rather an 'elusive concept,' requiring only ' "notice reasonably calculated to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action affecting their property interest and an opportunity to present their objections." ' [Citation.]" (In re Vitamin Cases (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 820, 829.)

Section 4058 provides that a trial court must determine a parent's annual gross income for purposes of determining the guideline child support amount by either using the parent's actual income (§ 4058, subd. (a)) or by imputing income to a parent (§ 4058, subd. (b)). "Thus, a trial court may ultimately calculate the guideline child support amount by using, as the income factor in its support calculation, either (1) the parent's actual income, as calculated under section 4058, subdivision (a) or (2) the parent's imputed income, as authorized by section 4058, subdivision (b), if the court determines that imputing income to the parent would be more appropriate and would better serve the child's best interests." (Sorge, supra, 202 Cal.App.4th at pp. 642-643, fn. omitted.)

Here, the Department's summons and complaint to establish paternity and child support, filed on August 12, 2016, informed Randall that it was seeking guideline child support for G.E.C. based on the then known income of Randall ($250,000 per month) and Caldwell ($1,583 per month). However, by the time of the hearing in May 2017, Randall's circumstances had changed in that he had ended his employment relationship with K&L Gates and was no longer working in any capacity. Pursuant to section 4058, subdivision (b), the trial court had discretion to consider earning capacity in lieu of actual income in determining the guideline child support amount. (See In re Marriage of LaBass & Munsee (1997) 56 Cal.App.4th 1331, 1336-1337 [in imputing income to parent, court did not depart from guideline formula, instead, it "merely exercised the discretion expressly vested in it by section 4058, subdivision (b) . . . to substitute earning capacity for actual income in applying the guideline formula"].)

Randall, who was obviously aware of the change in his employment in the months leading up to the hearing, thus had notice that the court would determine his child support obligation under the child support guidelines, and that it had discretion to do so based on actual income or, given Randall's lack of a job, based on his earning capacity as set forth in section 4058. (See Sorge, supra, 202 Cal.App.4th at pp. 642-643.) Due process required nothing more. (See In re Vitamin Cases, supra, 107 Cal.App.4th at p. 829.)

We also reject Randall's argument, apparently not raised in the trial court, that the Department was required to provide updated notice of how it intended to establish the guideline child support amount, pursuant to section 17430, subdivision (c). That section provides in relevant part: "If the local child support agency receives additional financial information within 30 days of service of the complaint and proposed judgment on the defendant and the additional information would result in a support order that is different from the amount in the proposed judgment, the local child support agency shall file a declaration setting forth the additional information and an amended proposed judgment." (§ 17430, subd. (c).) Section 17430, which sets forth the required procedures for obtaining a default judgment against an absent parent, is plainly inapplicable to the present circumstances.

B.

Second, as to whether substantial evidence supports the court's imputation of $1.5 million in income to him, Randall argues in a perfunctory manner that the Department and Caldwell did not satisfy their burden of showing that he had the capacity to earn $1.5 million annually and the court, therefore, had no basis to impute income to him. Aside from citation to several cases that address the requirement that the evidence support a court's finding regarding a parent's earning capacity, Randall's sole argument on this point is that the Department "and Caldwell had the burden to show Randall had the ability, willingness, and opportunity to take a job offer that paid $1.5 million annually, starting on January 1, 2017 (3 days after separating from K&L Gates, on December 29, 2016). [The Department] failed to meet this burden, and the court had no legitimate basis to impute income." Even assuming Randall has not forfeited his argument due to his failure to cite to any relevant evidence in the record on this issue (see Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.204(C)), we find it to be without merit.

As noted, subdivision (b) of section 4058 provides: "The court may, in its discretion, consider the earning capacity of a parent in lieu of the parent's income, consistent with the best interests of the children."

" ' "Earning capacity is composed of (1) the ability to work, including such factors as age, occupation, skills, education, health, background, work experience and qualifications; (2) the willingness to work exemplified through good faith efforts, due diligence and meaningful attempts to secure employment; and (3) an opportunity to work which means an employer who is willing to hire." ' [Citation.] If a parent is unwilling to work despite the ability and the opportunity, earning capacity may be imputed. [Citation.] A parent's motivation for not pursuing income opportunities is irrelevant . . . ." (In re Marriage of LaBass & Munsee, supra, 56 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1337-1338.)

" ' "When the ability to work or the opportunity to work is lacking, earning capacity is absent and application of the standard is inappropriate. When the payor is unwilling to pay and the other two factors are present, the court may apply the earnings capacity standard to deter the shirking of one's family responsibilities." [Citation.]' [Citation.] Accordingly, ' " '[t]he only limitations against imputing income to an unemployed or underemployed parent is where the parent in fact has no "earning capacity" . . . or relying on earning capacity would not be consistent with the children's best interest. . . .' " [Citation.] In other words, "[a]s long as ability and opportunity to earn exist, . . . the court has the discretion to consider earning capacity when consistent with the child or children's best interests. . . ." [Citation.]' [Citation.]" (In re Marriage of McHugh (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 1238, 1246.)

Here, in its statement of decision, the court explained its finding that Randall had the ability to work based on his "own testimony conceding his ability to work. The court found that [Randall] has been employed [as] a litigator at high levels in law firms, and that he continues to retain the skill and capacity to continue to be a litigator under the right circumstances. [Citation.] [Randall] articulated those circumstances as finding an employer who would refer cases to him for litigation rather than require him to generate cases based on contacts he testified that he has lost during employment with his last two firms. [Citation.] [¶] The court found that [Randall] had made choices during the litigation of this matter regarding his residence and the availability of the Atherton property that increased the logistical and travel burdens of parenting. [Citation.] The court found that the negative impact on ability to work of the travel logistics of child care resulted from [Randall's] choice to give up the Atherton property, and was not a result of the court's visitation orders. [Citation.]" (See Marriage of LaBass, supra, 56 Cal.App.4th at p. 1339 ["A parent does not ' " ' have the right to divest himself [or herself] of his [or her] earning ability at the expense of . . . minor children' " ' "].)

The court further stated, with respect to Randall's testimony that the custody and exchange schedules for G.E.C. and her sister G.C. "significantly impact his ability to work because of the travel required," that it "did not credit this testimony, finding it self-serving and inconsistent with the record before it . . . ."

As to the willingness and opportunity to work, the court stated that Randall "was evasive and lacked credibility in his testimony denying the opportunity to work at compensation levels comparable to his previous earnings. Despite testifying regarding his work with headhunters, [Randall] was evasive and refused to be specific when questioned about 'offers' he had considered unacceptable. [Citation.]" The court summarized the information and testimony provided by Randall as follows: "In general, when it came to questions of residence and financial disclosure, the court found [Randall] to be evasive at best, flatly inconsistent at times, and generally not credible. His income and expense declarations struck the court as more likely to mislead than inform, and at best reflected [his] most aggressive advocacy position rather than actual financial information. [¶] In addition, the court finds that [Randall] was evasive in describing his efforts to seek work, and reluctant to disclose the terms of any 'offers' he found 'were not offers.' Aside from his opaque references to his work with headhunters, his testimony did not indicate any specific effort to seek jobs other than conversations with former colleagues and acquaintances. This stood in stark contrast to prior employment searches during his career, which universally resulted in immediate reemployment with no substantial break in relationships between firms. [Randall's] attempt to implicate the current custody schedule as the reason for his failure to become re-employed was self-serving and unconvincing, and the court cannot ignore the proximity of the end of his income stream from law firm employment to the filing of these actions in concluding that his efforts to become employed have been inadequate and insincere."

The court also observed that the evidence had "demonstrated that [Randall's] asserted lack of income has not hindered his golf club memberships, his retention of season tickets to multiple sporting events, his maintenance of two homes for six months post-unemployment, the upkeep of his boat, his payments of his other children's private school and college tuitions, nor his international and out-of-state travel with companions for whom he footed the bill. The current support obligation for [G.E.C.] based on the income imputed by the court results in a monthly child support obligation that is less than the combined monthly total of expenses above that [Randall] admitted he has continued to incur while this litigation is pending. This court finds, based on those circumstances, that its imputation of income to [Randall] is in the best interests of his children."

Finally, after finding that Randall had both the ability and opportunity to work, and that it would be in G.E.C.'s best interest to impute income to him, the court concluded, based on the Department's arguments and on "evidence of the last two years of income received by [Randall] presented at trial . . . , that income of $1.5 million annually was both consistent with and slightly lower than [his] last two years of historical income, and that attribution at that level was appropriate."

In the circumstances of this case, we conclude substantial evidence supports the trial court's findings that Randall had both the ability and opportunity to work in his current profession at a level of compensation similar to the amount he had most recently earned. (See Axis Surplus Ins. Co. v. Reinoso (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 181, 189 [in determining whether substantial evidence supports judgment, appellate courts "may not reweigh the evidence and are bound by the trial court's credibility determinations"].) Hence, the court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered Randall to pay $4,885 per month of child support for G.E.C. based on an imputed income of $1.5 million per year. (See § 4058, subd. (b); In re Marriage of McHugh, supra, 231 Cal.App.4th at p. 1246 [" ' "[a]s long as ability and opportunity to earn exist, . . . the court has the discretion to consider earning capacity when consistent with the child or children's best interests" ' "]; see also Marriage of LaBass, supra, 56 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1337-1338; In re Marriage of Zimmerman, supra, 183 Cal.App.4th at pp. 906-907; compare, e.g., In re Marriage of Berger (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 1070 [because there was no evidence demonstrating that parent "would even have employment available to him if he decided to return to the type of work he had done [in the past], let alone what that employment would likely pay, we cannot say the court erred in refusing to impute income to him based upon that theoretical employment"].)

We will not address Randall's argument, raised only in his reply brief, that the court made no findings that would support a conclusion that imputing income to Randall was in G.E.C.'s best interest. (See Habitat & Watershed Caretakers v. City of Santa Cruz (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 1277, 1292, fn. 6, ["[a]rguments presented for the first time in an appellant's reply brief are considered waived"].)

C.

Third, Randall makes the following two-sentence argument in his opening brief regarding the court's alleged error in extending his 2016 income into 2017: "No evidence was presented by either [the Department] or Caldwell at the support hearing held on May 16 and 17, 2017 of income payments received after September 2016. [Citation.] Accordingly, the court's support orders extending actual income into January and February of 2017 should be vacated."

"When a party provides a brief without argument or citation of authority, we may 'treat the points as waived, or meritless, and pass them without further consideration.' [Citation.]" (In re Marriage of Stanton (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 547, 561.) Here, in light of Randall's failure in his opening brief to cite to either specific pages of the record or set forth any meaningful argument or legal authority in support of the claim, we find that he has not preserved the issue for appeal. (See In re Marriage of Stanton, at p. 561; Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.204(a)(1)(B) & (C); see also Clary v. City of Crescent City (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 274, 294 [" ' "This court is not required to discuss or consider points which are not argued or which are not supported by citation to authorities or the record" ' "].)

III. Trial Court's Jurisdiction

Randall contends the court lacked jurisdiction to establish child support for G.E.C. and that the Department's failure to appeal Judge DuBois's order after it intervened in case No. FAM0131885, means that the Department "has waived any right to object to or contest California's lack of jurisdiction over" G.E.C. and that the Department "is also barred by res judicata from attempting to reassert duplicative claims of jurisdiction regarding" G.E.C.

First, at the May 22, 2017 hearing, after the court imputed income of $1.5 million per year to Randall, Randall asked the court, "in rendering its findings regarding child support, that it render those findings subject to the resolution of a jurisdictional dispute which I've raised in this case which are pending with the California Court of Appeal. . . . [¶] And I'd ask that the court simply apply that rule that your ruling is subject to the resolution of jurisdictional disputes that are pending in this case." The court declined to do so. Randall's objection in the trial court thus solely involved a request that the court make its ruling subject to this court's resolution of the question of jurisdiction in the pending appeal. In our now final decision, we reversed Judge DuBois's finding of lack of jurisdiction as to G.E.C., which was based solely on Judge Greenberg's order. We therefore find Randall's challenge to the California court's jurisdiction to adjudicate the child support issues, based on Judge DuBois's order, to be without merit and further find his claim that the Department is precluded from asserting any claims for child support due to its failure to appeal that order to be forfeited. (See, e.g., Simplon Ballpark, LLC v. Scull (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 660, 669-670.)

We also note that the court in this case found, in light of Judge DuBois's dismissal and the pending appeal, that its "jurisdiction regarding the child support of [G.E.C.] is, at this point, specifically limited to the date of filing of this petition and, more specifically, the date of filing of the request for order wherein [Caldwell's attorney] first requested child support," in September 2016.

In any event, as already noted, on February 15, 2017, the trial court in the present case found that California has jurisdiction over child support with respect to G.E.C., based on the fact that the court in Nevada had found that G.E.C. was born in California and had continuously resided in California since birth. The court also found that the Department was not a party to the prior case involving G.E.C., that it was not served with Randall's motion to quash and dismiss, and that it therefore was not subject to dismissal in that case. We agree with the court's findings, and therefore find no merit to Randall's argument that the Department was precluded from asserting the claims it did in the present case.

The Department provides a third reason Randall's claim must fail: he confuses jurisdiction over the question of custody under the UCJEA, which was the subject of Judge DuBois's order, and jurisdiction with respect to child support under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which Judge DuBois's order did not address. (See § 5700.201 [in a proceeding to, inter alia, establish a support order, a court "may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident individual . . . if: [¶] . . . [¶] . . . the individual engaged in sexual intercourse in this state and the child may have been conceived by that act of intercourse"].) Randall has failed to respond to the Department's additional arguments in his reply brief and, in light of our findings set forth in the text, ante, we need not address them here.

IV. Trial Court's Denial of Randall's Motion to Dismiss

Randall contends the court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss this matter to allow a pending paternity/support case regarding G.E.C. in Nevada to proceed.

Randall's sole argument on this point is as follows: "The trial court erred in failing to follow the 2015 and 2016 orders, and promptly dismiss the [Department's] case. Randall's Nevada case regarding paternity and support for [G.E.C.] [citation] should have been permitted to proceed unencumbered by the trial court's errs [sic]. [Citation.] Caldwell answered the complaint in NV, thereby waiving any objections to support jurisdiction in Nevada. [Citation.] As such, the Nevada action regarding [G.E.C.] was the only paternity/support case properly filed regarding [G.E.C.] with jurisdiction to proceed."

Randall has failed to support this claim with any legal authority. We therefore find that he has not preserved the issue for appeal. (Clary v. City of Crescent City, supra, 11 Cal.App.5th at p. 294; In re Marriage of Stanton, supra, 190 Cal.App.4th at p. 561; see also Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.204(a)(1)(B).)

On the eve of oral argument and without explanation, Randall submitted a June 22, 2018 "Order of Reversal and Remand" by the Nevada Court of Appeals, which is not in the record on appeal. This filing is not only extremely untimely, it also relates to the denial of Randall's motion to dismiss, which we have found forfeited due to a failure to develop the argument. (See text, ante.) For these reasons, we will not consider the Nevada appellate court's order. --------

DISPOSITION

The trial court's order establishing child support is affirmed. Costs on appeal are awarded to the San Mateo County Department of Child Support Services.

/s/_________


Kline, P.J. We concur: /s/_________
Stewart, J. /s/_________
Miller, J.