By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Support on Friday, January 9, 2015.

A parent wants to reduce the child-support paid to the other parent. Sound familiar, but there’s a twist. The paying parent is the mother, and the collecting parent is the father. Welcome to the gender equality frontlines.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, actress Halle Berry has asked a Los Angeles judge in the couple’s custody case to reduce her monthly child-support payments to $3,000 a month from $16,000 a month.

Halle Berry, 48, and Gabriel Aubry, 39, dated for two years before separating in 2010. A court awarded joint custody of their daughter, and they have been embroiled in bitter court – and even physical – battles ever since.

Berry reportedly moved to reduce her child-support payments to the unemployed model to motivate him to get a job. Halle alleges that Aubry is refusing to get a job, driving up his need for support.

Is there a double standard when it comes to a perception of men “living off” women? Think of it in reverse, would a woman collecting a lot of child support from her wealthy celebrity ex-husband be called lazy?

Currently, about 40% of mothers in the United States are their family’s primary earners. This includes nearly a quarter of married mothers – and nearly a third of Americans agree that it is best when the man provides for his family.

How does Halle Berry reduce her support payments when the father is unemployed? If his income is zero, wouldn’t the father have a better chance of increasing the amount of support he pay? The answer is ‘imputation of income.’

A court in Florida may “impute” income to an unemployed or underemployed parent if their unemployment or underemployment is found to be voluntary on that parent’s part. However, the statute has restraints on imputation.

Besides imputation, and gender equality, Halle Berry’s case raises other matters. For instance, paying the ex-boyfriend $16,000 a month is a lot of money to spend on a 6-year-old who only spends half her time with her dad.

Court records show some extravagant lifestyles for the children of the wealthy. For example, actress Kirstie Alley’s ex-husband argued he and Alley provided their children with a $10,000 rocking horse and threw annual Halloween parties costing between $20,000-25,000.

I recently published an article in the Florida Bar Journal on Florida’s child support guidelines. Calculating support for wealthy parents is an area that the child support guidelines don’t handle very well.

Halle Berry’s cases raises interesting issues: the right amount of child support, is child support a subsidy for parents who can work and gender equality.

The Los Angeles Times article can be read here.

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