Many people in the greater Los Angeles area might not think of child support is one of the most important and contentious issues in a divorce.
After all, parents should want to support their children, so when compared to issues like custody and property division, child support seems like something rather trivial to fight about during a divorce or separation.
Further, Child Support Guidelines apply to all California cases involves children, and these Guidelines require judges to use a set formula in most cases.
The Guidelines cannot always be strictly applied to high earners
However, the Guidelines themselves allow judges to deviate in certain special circumstances.
One of these circumstances is when one parent makes an extremely high income.
The law recognizes that in these cases, a strict application of the formula could mean that a person gets order to pay a regular amount that is much higher than his or her fair contribution to his or her children’s needs.
In these cases, a judge can deviate so as to make sure that the child gets the parent’s support without effectively punishing the parent for being successful.
While this exception is available, parents need to remember that it is incumbent on the parent wanting this break to prove he or she is entitled to it.
Doing so can be a very contentious process, as the other parent is likely to resist receiving less child support than what the Guidelines call for and may even resent parent who asks for the exception.
There are other child support issues that may affect high earners
Other issues can also make the question of child support more contentious when one or both parents is wealthy or earns a lot.
For instance, when calculating child support, a court may wish to consider a broad range of income, including, for example, investment gains and employee benefits like stock options or even a company car.
On the flip side, wealthier couples may be more prone to argue about whether a support order should include special educational expenses or the cost of extracurricular activities.