Jan 09, 2008

When It Comes to Child Support, How Much is Too Much?


Every state has its own guidelines for child support--when parents separate, they use each parent's income and the amount of time they spend with the children to calculate how much support should be paid. But is there such a thing as an income too high to measure child support obligations? Billionaire Donald Bren thinks there is. The Los Angeles Times reports that Bren refuses to disclose his income or other financial information. His two children say that under California guidelines, support should be approximately $2.2 million each. The rules base child support on the parents' income in order for the children to share the same standard of living as their wealthier parent. Bren says the court should determine the amount that would accomplish that, and he'll pay it, and thus it's not necessary to give the court financial information.

The fact is, state child support guidelines aren't designed for the super-wealthy, but for regular people. At the same time, rules are rules, and unless Mr. Bren can show a good reason why his financial information should be protected, the court's likely to decide he should make the same disclosures that everyone else is required to make. If he wants to get a ballpark of what he might be required to pay, he can use one of the free child support calculators available on the Web.


In New Hampshire at least the statutes permit the Marital Masters discretion--to prevent formulaically determined awards that are "confiscatory," which my layperson's lens tells me means something like, the state won't order you to pay an amount of support without good reason just because it can.

What do you think?

I'm not sure where this one should go, so you decide: My question is about child support through a will, where the will was written, but never found:

My friend died a few months ago. He did not get along all that well with his family. When he was alive he let his friends know that should something happen to him, he wanted his small estate to support his 12 year old guardian son. He claimed to have written that into a will. He owns some income property that could provide some support for his son. Since no will was found, and since he was only a guardian (he never formally adopted the child), I think his property would go to his closest blood relatives, his brothers and sisters, who did not get along with my friend, have no blood ties to, and hence no concerns about, the guardian son. Fortunately, the son is being cared for and formally adopted by another good friend. The question is: Is there probate when there is no will found? Can "friends" have any legal standing to address a probate court about the known wishes of the deceased to have his property support his son? Could there be criminal proceedings if it was suspected that a family member found and destroyed a will that would have transfered property to the guardian son rather than to the family? Is there a way to query a court data bases to find out if indeed a probate in my friend's name was opened or closed in California in the last 6 months, if the county was not known? Thanks for any help.