BEYOND GUIDELINE CHILD SUPPORT
For nearly 100 years, California courts have consistently maintained and fostered the principle that the duty of a parent does not end by providing mere necessities of life if he is able to afford more. Bailey vs. Superior Court(1932) 215 Cal.548, 555. On countless occasions courts have explicitly established that the child has a right“to be supported in a styleand condition that is consonant with the position in society of its parents.” Kyne vs. Kyne(1945) 70 Cal.App. 2d 80, 83.
The California Family Code provides specific code provisions in regards the
establishment of child support orders in the state by trial courts. Said code sections demonstrate a very clear intent and objective of the legislature to ensure fair and appropriatechild support orders are rendered for children with parents from all walks of life.
Family Code§ 4053 (a) provides as follows, “In implementing the statewide uniform guideline, the courts shall adhere to the following principles: (a) A parent's first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent's circumstances and station in life…” In order to achieve the objection of section 4053 (a), the state of California adopted and implemented guideline child support calculation. Specifically, Family Code § 4055 provides specifics of the California child support guideline to which the courts must adhere to use when rendering a child support order.
The guideline child support calculation (primarily based on income and timeshare) is presumedto be correct and able to render an order that will provide the child with a lifestyle similar to that his or her parents. In the rare occurrence that this is not the case, said presumption can be rebutted and the court choose to deviate from the guideline calculation. In regards to deviation from guideline, Family Code§ 4057, provides in pertinent part as follows,
“(a) The amount of child support established by the formula provided in subdivision (a) of Section 4055 is presumedto be the correct amount of child support to be ordered.
(b) Thepresumption of subdivision (a) is a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of proof and may be rebutted by admissible evidence showing that application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate in the particular case, consistent with the principles set forth in Section 4053…” [Emphasis Added]
In referencing section 4053, the legislature intended for the courts to consider and address when appropriate, the station in lifeof each parent.
The consideration of a parent’s station in life (or in lay terms status in society) when rendering a child support order is not a new occurrence. For decades before the implementation of the child support guideline, California courts have considered and addressed the importance of children sharing in the quality of life of their wealthy parents. In establishing the above precedent, courts have never made a distinction between children had in or out of wedlock. It is the child’s right whether “legitimateor illegitimate…to be supported in a style and condition that is consonant with the position in society of its parents” Kyne vs. Kyne(1945) 70 Cal.App. 2d 80, 83. When the supporting parent enjoys a “lifestyle that far exceeds that of the custodial parent, child support must to some degree reflect the more opulent lifestyle.” Marriage of Cantalano (1988) 204 Cal.App.3d 543, 552.
In addition to lifestyle consideration, the courts have also addressed the difference the between the rich and the ultra-rich, in essence suggest that the latter group must provide for support and resources. “…a parent’s ‘ability’ to support a child may depend upon whether the supporting parent is merely rich or is very rich, and ‘this discrepancy can affect the [trial court’s determination as to the] child’s needs.’” Marriage of Hubner 94 Cal.App.4th175 citing Johnson v. Superior Court 66 Cal.App.4th 68, 74.
Herein, given Trustee’s refusal to provide disclosure or respond to a subpoena, it is impossible to gauge whether guideline support, based on trust monthly earnings, will be enough to provide Elise with a lifestyle similar to that of her ultra-rich multi-millionaire deceased father. Given this, we must plead in the alternative that the court consider a deviation from guideline child support in order to provide a lifestyle that somewhat mirrors the decedent or his “legitimate” children. Case and statutory authority have long recognized that guideline child support determination should be case specific. In Marriage of Fini, Judge King stated the following in regards to guideline support,
“The facts and circumstances of the parties in each family law case are different, which is why these cases are equitable proceedings in which the court must have the ability to exercise discretion to achieve fairness and equity…This makes clear that the court, in child support cases, is not just supposed to punch numbers into a computer and award the parties the computer’s result without considering the circumstances in a particular case…” Marriage of Fini (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 1033, 1043.
We at the Baghdaserians Law Group have dealt with several cases dealing with extraordinary high earners and requests for support BEYOND guideline calculation. Call or email us for a consultation with firm principal, and Certified Family Law Specialist, Patrick Baghdaserians, CFLS.
Family Law Attorney and Expert Located in Pasadena, CA
Family Law Attorney and Expert Located in Pasadena, CA