When it comes to child custody and support, it’s pretty much undisputed that more often than not, for many different reasons, moms often have custody of their children and fathers have to pay support. However, I’m a firm believer that the above is not ALWAYS the case, as all divided families are different. Women don’t always get custody, Men don’t always pay support. In fact, I’ve routinely seen and helped fathers get custody of their children and support from the moms. I have also represented mothers who pay support and only have visitation.
Many have been surprised by the outcome of the child support case between celebrity Halle Berry and her ex-boyfriend, Gabriel Aubry, who share custody of their 6-year-old daughter, Nahla. Back in May 2014, Berry was ordered to pay child support in the amount of $16,000/month (no typo). Reportedly, Berry recently filed a Request for a $12,000 reduction of the support amount, alleging that Aubrey has been abusing the system by living off of support and refusing to get a job.Many across the worldwide web are chiming in, arguing gender equality, and most commonly asserting that Berry’s support shouldn’t be reduced because a)she’s rich, and b)women have been living off of child support paid by men for centuries. I actually can understand this position because it is true: women have been living off of child support for centuries and ironically enough, when a woman is the one who doesn’t have custody or who has to pay child or spousal support, we (women) have a harder time accepting this.
But at the same time, irrespective of gender, should people really be “living off of” other people that they aren’t married to? At what point should all fairness and common decency kick in? Why the heck isn’t he working anyway? He is a well-known, high-fashion supermodel (not to mention gorgeous). I seriously doubt he’d be unable to find work, but hey…I guess you never know.
Nonetheless, this child definitely needs to be financially supported by both parents, and because of the huge difference in their incomes, I’m actually not surprised that Berry’s support is this high. And even if Aubrey is living off of the support (I mean, who couldn’t live off $16k/month), support amounts must be such that the child can continue the standard of living they’re accustomed to even though the parents are no longer together. In other words, you can’t have one parent living in a mansion, purchasing organic food, buying expensive gifts, and throwing fancy birthday parties, while the other, because they aren’t as financially established, can’t do any of the above. Imagine what this will do to the relationship between the lower earning parent and child. Fortunately, Unfortunately , when you’re Halle Berry, the standard of living is pretty doggone high! lol
In cases like this, where it’s likely that one party is able to work, but is choosing not to, the court can adjust child support by assigning an estimated earning capacity to the unemployed party, rather than the actual income at that very moment. So, if Berry can convince the judge that Aubrey is able-bodied (i.e. not disabled) and is choosing not to work, and if she can show that based on Aubrey’s skill set, previous experience, and the availability of work in the modeling industry, he has a higher earning potential, the judge may entertain her motion. The judge can order Aubrey to seek employment and show proof of his job search, order a vocational examination (where a professional will evaluate his earning potential), and Berry may ultimately prevail and child support may be lowered.