BY: MARK SWEET, ESQ.

Besides the Mel Gibson Oksana Grigorieva allegations of infidelity, crazy voicemails and violence, the unfortunate truth is that Mel and Oksana have a child.  A parent is allowed (and should) seek child support payment from the other parent.  This money is not meant to support the other parent, but to support the child.  These calculations differ from state to state, but generally the courts consider the needs of the child (is there a disability?), the ability of the non-custodial parent to support themselves, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if both parents were together or that the child was use to and provisions for any additional children the non-custodial parent may have.

While calculating the correct amount of child support is probably the most litigious aspect of a divorce or custody battle, it is also the most complicated.  To add to this complication, there may be other children with other non-custodial parents (such as several different fathers).  This brings us to the case we have at hand, Oksana has a 9-month old child with Mel as well as another child (a 13-year old son by Timothy Dalton).  Currently she receives about $2,500 in child support for her 13-year old son and $5,000 a month for the 9-month old child.  However, Oksana is now (reportedly) requesting monthly payments of $40,000 per month ( according to the dailymail).  While these numbers seem incredibly out-of-whack, it does present the question of whether these two fathers should be paying roughly the same amount of money per child.

Now clearly there are a lot of issues with the idea of parents paying the same amount of child support for their children.  The first hurdle is that the different parents (in this case the fathers) make different amount of money every year.  Should a multi-millionaire only have to pay a small amount of money for child support because the other parent has a child with someone who only makes $20,000 a year?  While I am not sure how often this is an issue, the idea of bringing some balance to the two amounts of child support makes sense.  Children are fundamentally competitive and look for any excuse to claim they are the favorite (for those of us with at least one sibling, how many times have we asked our parents who their favorite is).  If one child is “earning” more in child support than the other, could this breed resentment from the other child?

Second, the child support is meant to be used to support the child, not the parent (this is known as spousal support).  This means the money should go towards clothing, food, shelter, schooling, etc.  Now it is ok if the money goes towards the heating bill of a house and others in that house benefit, but it would be more improper for the parent receiving payments to use that money on a cruise and leave the child home with a babysitter.  That brings about the question of what exactly a 9-month old child needs with $40,000 per month.  To put this in perspective, in New York, Sean Combs, aka P Diddy, Puff Daddy, etc. was ordered to pay $21,782 per month for his 11-year old son, this is believed to be the highest amount ever awarded for child support in New York State.  (according to Fox News).  So what does a 9-month old need that requires $40,000 a month? Why is this value so much higher than the $2,500 for her other child which seems to be working for her currently.

So how much is too much for child support?  It’s hard to argue that providing the absolute best for a child is not appropriate.  However, at what point does the money go beyond child support and into spousal support?  Does this reward a person for having a child with a richer person rather than a poorer person? Let us know what you think!

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