Celebrities and Child Support

Some of the biggest complaints about paying child support payments are that “the amount is too high” or that the receiving parent, often a woman, is “getting her hair done,” “spending the money on herself getting mani’s and pedicures,” “kids don’t cost that much” and the all-time favorite, “she’s living on my child support.”

Fact check #1:

55% of custodial parents are not receiving ANY child support. Period. And the average child support “award” in America is $329 per month.

You show me the parent who can raise a kid or kids and “live” on $329 a month; I want to know where to get those salon treatments!

Not to mention how this mythical parent is managing a mortgage or rent, utilities, food, a car to haul the kids around, and all the related expenses: clothing, school supplies, school fees, school lunches, school trips, daycare for non-school age children, extracurricular activities, medical expenses including insurance, non-covered items, dental visits, vision screening, prescriptions if needed, and other childhood expenses such as birthday parties, gifts, and possibly allowance.

Yes, this mythical parent needs to be giving budgeting classes to us all.

Fact check #2:

76% of custodial parents work full time at one job. The stats vary on the number of part-time and second jobs, so custodial parents are not “living off of child support.” Many of these parents have well-paying jobs. Child support payments are the bridge that prevents one parent from bearing the burden of supporting a child alone.

One of the reasons the battle cry of “kids don’t cost that much” is the attention that celebrity divorce and alimony and or child support payments received in the press. We love our celebrity gossip, and the dirt on divorce makes for great water-cooler chats that can fuel the urban legend that “kids don’t cost that much.”

Charlie Sheen, everyone’s favorite bad boy, seems to stay in trouble and on our tongues for various problems ranging from substance abuse to legal situations. Between 2 ex-wives and four kids, he shells out $110,000 a month in child support. He got in trouble in 2014 for deciding to withhold child support to one ex, claiming she “spent excessively and does not grant access to the children.” They went back to court.

Dennis Rodman was found in contempt of court and ordered to pay $500,000 in back child support to his ex-wife and serve 100 hours of community service for his contempt.

Val Kilmer, oh Iceman! He was court-ordered to pay $27,500 a month for two children and did not. So, his ex-wife had liens placed on his ranch to force payment. I thought Batman was a secret billionaire.

Eddie Murphy decided he had had enough Scary Spice when Mel B was five months along with their child. Mel had a DNA test done to prove he was indeed the father, and the courts socked Eddie for $59,950 a month in child support payments.

Brittany Spears’ public separation and custody arrangement have been hot gossip for years. When her ex got sole custody after Brit’s well-publicized meltdowns, Kevin Federline got $25,000 a month child support from her, as well as all associated legal fees. Not bad for a backup dancer.

Reality TV star John Gosselin got in trouble in 2009 for famously stating, “I could lose my home, and I need my house to have custody.” After he said in court that he could either pay his child support or his rent but not pay both.

Mel Gibson ended his decades-long marriage and got involved with a new lady and had his 8th child with her. Their legal battles were tabloid fodder for a very long time and have cost Gibson millions in legal fees, payouts, and damaged his reputation in Hollywood. The mother of Mel’s eight children is said to have filed grievances against’ her legal team for “bad advice.” However, she gets $20,000 a month in child support and lives in one of Mel’s California homes expense-free. That house is to be sold on the child’s 18th birthday with the money put in a trust for the child.

I could list many, many more of your favorite stars and sports heroes from Evander Holyfield, who got evicted from his home to pay off child support and other debts, to Terrell Owens, who, like Dennis Rodman, managed to exchange his contempt charges for community service.

The problem with all these high profiles, celebrity cases is that the water cooler gossip fuels the stereotype of child support being “too much” or outrageous.

If a family of four can live for a year on $59,950, why does one kid get that a month?
“It does not cost that much to raise a kid! Child support is outrageous!”

Fact check #3:

All states use income calculations that are based on a percentage of income. For example, while Joe Rich may pay $1,000 a month, and Joe Not Rich pays 100 dollars, both are paying the same percentage even though the dollars amounts are very different. The models vary by state, but child support is based on percentages of income and time-sharing.

Now that does not mean I am endorsing the monetary amounts in the above examples, or that I think you need a “legal team” to go against’ an ex. But using these celebrity cases as arguments against such child support awards fuels the #DeadbeatCulture that normal parents without a “legal team” are fighting in America for the funds to raise their children.

If Dennis Rodman and Terrell Owens and Evander Holyfield “went broke” trying to pay their child support, what chance does Joe Average Ex have? And what’s a few hours of community service or even bad press if it gets you out of paying thousands of dollars?

Review our first FACT CHECK: 55% of parents in America are receiving nothing, and the average child support award is 329 dollars a month. And none of these parents have a team of lawyers ready to do battle to see they get it.

Let’s quit trying to compare apples and oranges with footballs and Oscars. The 55% of parents receiving nothing and doing it all alone would be grateful for a basket of apples and oranges and a check for $329 that does not bounce.

The tabloids are fun, but for child support “news,” we need a healthy dose of reality thrown in with our celebrity gossip. Ending #DeadbeatCulture depends on it.

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