Judge Javier Vargas

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Plaintiff wife petitioned for confirmation of the magistrate’s order and findings of fact as to willfulness and penalty recommendations. The parties had two children during their marriage—now emancipated. During the marriage, defendant husband was a jeweler while wife was a homemaker and caretaker of the children. The parties ultimately suffered marital differences and separated, agreeing to retain their own residences and assets. They were later divorced with wife having primary physical custody, and husband paying monthly child support of $4,000, as well as the children’s insurance and educational expenses. Husband paid child support until he was incarcerated for fraud. Upon his release, husband was placed in the U.S. Witness Protection Program, and failed to comply with child support obligations. Wife commenced the present action alleging husband had accrued arrears of over $291,000. After a hearing, the magistrate found husband in willful violation for failing to give evidence of his earnings. The court affirmed the magistrate’s findings, noting that a failure to pay constituted prima facie evidence of willfulness as husband failed to present any credible evidence of inability to pay, or any evidence of his income or finances.