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Do Child Support Guidelines Always Have to be Used? Not Necessarily

Posted on: August 18, 2018

Do Child Support Guidelines Always Have to be Used? Not Necessarily

California has guidelines that almost always dictates how much child support is required. This is a good thing in many ways, most especially because it assures that no one gets special treatment in the courts and that children are equally taken care of. However, it is not always right for every situation. In a surprising reversal, the Second District has ruled on this family law issue and changed course. This will not affect the vast majority of child custody disputes but it is important none the less.

The facts of the case

The case goes back to 2006 in which a man and woman had a daughter who we will refer to as Z. The father, who is a well-known movie director, had a wife and three children at the time he got Z’s mother pregnant. Said director offered to pay the expenses of both the mother and child. At the time, the mother worked as a hair stylist and reported her monthly income as just over $1,800.

The mother agreed to the arrangement but in 2014 she petitioned for formal child support. This petition requested that the father pay for his child’s health costs and extracurricular activities. Once she filed this petition, the mother requested access to the father’s income and expenses – including the cost of tuition and medical insurance for his other three children.

The father refused to provide everything the mother was asking for but he did respond that his salary was $2.2 million per year and that he could pay whatever child support was reasonable for the child’s needs.

The father eventually had to provide more information

Eventually, a judge required that the father provide additional financial information. The paperwork revealed that he was making $2.1 million per year and paying $20,000 in per month in rent. They found that he paid more than $40,000 in ongoing expenses such as food, entertainment, and taking care of his other kids.

According to California child custody guidelines, this would mean that his child support should be over nearly $11,500 per month. The father stated that this was excessive and that it was more than the child needed. He wanted to be exempt from the guidelines. The case was litigated and the trial court found that this amount did indeed exceed the child’s reasonable needs.

However, the case was appealed and the second court found that the first court did not comply with the law. Why? Because they did not give an explanation – either written or oral – about why they did not choose to award what the guidelines specified. This means that federal laws regarding child support guidelines were not met and the finding was reversed.

Will this case affect your child custody case? If either you or the other parent is a high earner than it could. Otherwise, you can expect that the guidelines will apply to your case. Contact Kendall Gkikas & Mitchell, LLP at 909-482-1422 to find out more.

Kristina Kendall-Gkikas
Kendall & Gkikas LLP
143 N. Harvard Avenue, 2nd Floor
Claremont, CA, 91711 USA
909-482-1422