The divorce of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline has been toxic, but could be made worse because he is rumored to be strapped for cash and seeking more child support. How is child support calculated when one parent is super wealthy and the other is not?

Oops I did it Again

Federline, aka “K-Fed”, has asked a judge to increase the $20,000 per month child support payment he receives from Britney. The father is claiming their 2 kids enjoy a lavish lifestyle with her, but all he can provide them with is a lifestyle that is relatively meager.

Federline also is rumored to claim the kids go on 5-star vacations, they have every toy imaginable, a lighted tennis court, all because he claims she makes $34 million a year, while he only pulls in $3,000 per month.

How do the child support guidelines work when one parent makes millions and the other only makes a few thousands?

Florida Child Support

High income parents have special problems in determining child support. Courts are reluctant to award child support that is deemed “excessive,” but the courts are bound by child support guidelines which set a presumptive amount of support.

To make matters worse, research suggests that child support guidelines themselves are flawed in setting support for the high income parent.

I wrote an article about some of the problems with Florida child support. For example, Florida guidelines follow the income shares model. The guidelines are are regressive, so poorer parents pay a larger share of income than wealthier parents.

Good Fortune Child Support

For high-income parents, the guidelines can award support far exceeding any child’s needs. Also, Florida’s guidelines have never been updated, so they are based on the cost of goods as they existed in the 1970s.

Because of these problems, the guidelines expressly provide the amounts can be adjusted upward or downward. Florida allows deviations by up to 5 percent after considering relevant factors. And the statute authorizes deviations by more than 5 percent, pursuant to a list of enumerated factors.

There are some circumstances under which a court may divert more substantially from the child support guidelines. Good fortune child support can be awarded in cases in which one parent is very wealthy.

Courts have determined that children of such parents deserve to benefit from that parent’s wealth and success, especially since they would enjoy such benefits if the parents were married.

Some of the benefits to a child born to a wealthy parent can include private schools, travel, and other special activities above and beyond basic necessities.

Additionally, Florida has allowed courts to order savings and trusts for the children of a wealthy parent, even if they reside primarily with the other parent.

Make Me

One Britney source with direct knowledge of the situation tells TMZ:

Britney spends no more on the boys than he does. He’s barely getting by because he has to support 3 additional kids and his wife and himself on funds Brit gives him for their 2 kids.

The source also reportedly said, “The law is that both parents are to contribute to their children’s support. Where is his contribution?” Federline says his expenses are around $23,000 a month. So, when you add up his earnings and Britney’s $20,000 per month, he currently breaks even.

The TMZ article is here.

Photo credit  CC BY-SA 2.0

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