Episode 77 - When Is $20,000 Per Month in Child Support Not Enough? Celebrity Child Support Cases
Most people would be jumping for joy if they received $20,000 per month tax free for child support, but not Kevin Federline. Kevin is the former husband to Britney Spears and he has recently asserted that he should be receiving $60,000 per month. In this show, we break down his assertions, Britney's potential defenses, and address the reasonableness of the request. We also address Kevin's recent grand birthday party and how it might impact his child support claims. Tune in to hear Todd get a little worked up over Kevin's claims.
Leh Meriwether: Todd, I'm excited today.
Todd Orston: I mean, I'm excited that you're excited.
Leh Meriwether: We're going to do something we've never done before.
Todd Orston: All right, now I'm scared. You know I'm married, right?
Leh Meriwether: Jeez. This is family show. What do you think?
Todd Orston: I thought you meant ... No. Where's your mind? Good Lord. How about this, why are you excited?
Leh Meriwether: We're going to talk about celebrity child support.
Todd Orston: That is exciting. I mean, I don't know if I'm as excited as you are, but I'm pretty excited.
Leh Meriwether: So, I read an article on Linkedin the other day, I'm not sure who published it, Maybe it was linked to something online, where apparently Britney Spears' ex husband is K-Fed. That's his name.
Todd Orston: Is that how you pronounce it?
Leh Meriwether: I think so.
Todd Orston: K-Fed. You have to say it quick because then it's cool.
Leh Meriwether: Do you? Okay, K-Fed.
Todd Orston: K-Fed!
Leh Meriwether: Okay. K-Fed. I'm not saying right.
Todd Orston: Yeah. Don't say [crosstalk 00:01:15].
Leh Meriwether: I am not going to say it. So, K-Fed has brought an action because apparently 20,000 dollars a month in child support is not enough, and he needs $60, 000 dollars a month in child support.
Todd Orston: I for one can say I don't even know how. I mean, that's like ramen noodles every night. 20,000 dollars a month. I mean, how do you get by? That is a step away from poverty. Am I laying it on a little too thick?
Leh Meriwether: A little too thick.
Todd Orston: All right.
Leh Meriwether: Welcome everyone. I'm Le Heterotrimer, and with me Todd Orson. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Heterotrimer & Tharp, and you're listening to Heterotrimer & Tharp Radio on the new talk 106.7. Here you'll learn about divorce, family law, tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis, and from time to time, even tips on how to take your marriage to the next level. If you want to learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at atlantadivorceteam.com. And if you can't tell, we're actually having a lot of fun today.
Leh Meriwether: We're going to dive into this article and the allegations that are at least set forth in the article. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to pull up the pleadings. That will make it even more entertaining. So, just for the sake of the show, we're going to assume that what was in the article was true. It may not be, but we're going to analyze this case from a Georgia perspective. I know it may apply to other states as well like Florida, but I think it's filed in California. I wasn't able to get that information. We're not going to talk about California law. California has some unique things to it, but we're going talk about in general how this could play out in a state like Georgia or Florida.
Todd Orston: That's a specific example, and then that's going to basically lead into general conversation about what we have referred to as celebrity divorce. But that also goes to the very affluent. It may not be a celebrity, but cases where we are talking about millions and millions and millions of dollars and assets or very, very, very high income, and how issues like child support are just dealt with differently when you're dealing with that kind of money.
Leh Meriwether: Right. So, in this case I think his true name is Kevin Underline. Their divorce I think 2007/08, he was awarded 20,000 dollars a month, 10,000 dollars for each child, in child support.
Todd Orston: Unacceptable.
Leh Meriwether: That's what he thinks. He is a father of six now.
Leh Meriwether: Two from Britney...
Todd Orston: ...there's a lot of little K-Feds running around.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. Two from Britney. His complaint was that she earns an excessive 34 million dollars a year and therefore it's reasonable for him to get more. By the way, he wants three times more. He wants 60, 000 dollars a month. I know lots of people would be happy to earn $60, 000 dollars a year let alone $60, 000 dollars tax free a month.
Todd Orston: I don't know how I can do a radio-show when I'm borderline speechless. I know the two don't really go well together. I mean obviously, I will say we, we have certain with the philosophy that goes along with that kind of effort to try and fight for a child support amount like that. Whether it's 20,000 or 40,000 or 60, 000 dollars per month. I'm not going to lie, and if you haven't listeners picked up on this already, I have some real problems with that. Because, and at its core, there's a difference between alimony otherwise known as spousal support and child support. One is for the support of the spouse. The other is for the support of the child. Unless your child has mink underwear and eats lobster for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, 20,000, 40,000, 60, 000 dollars per month to me is ridiculous. We have represented celebrities, and we have represented the other party who has a relationship, any child with a celebrity, and those types of numbers... to me it is borderline offensive.
Leh Meriwether: Now, we're going to give some caveats to that. We're going to talk about situations where that actually might be okay. 20,000, or even more than that a month, but those are very specific situations, and we'll get into those later.
Todd Orston: We're going to go into more detail, but that also comes down to 20,000 might be an appropriate number. Whether or not it should be a 20,0000 check written to the custodial parent versus X amount is going directly to the parent and the rest of the money is being used to pay directly expenses related to a child.
Leh Meriwether: Right. And so, apparently, as I understand it he's being trying to negotiate for this for a while. When he started negotiating this, he apparently was asking for 40,000 a month, but he has now upped it to 60. I think he did that because the response back was, “Well, tell us why 20 doesn't cover the needs of the children when they're with you?” And he got upset. I don't know if he did. I'm just sort of reading through this. He says, “Well, fine, I'll ask for more.”
Todd Orston: That's an interesting negotiating tactic, right? I'm getting 20. I would like 40. No. Okay, you drive a hard bargain. 60. No. I mean, fine, I'll back into 80, but I can't go any higher.
Leh Meriwether: I think that her father actually manages her estate now or the finances, because he's the one who writes the cheque every month or makes sure it gets written. I think he reached out to him and said, “Hey, I'll sit down with you and work on a budget.” And I guess he didn't take that very well. Again, I'm just going off with what I read on the interwebs and assuming these things are true.
Leh Meriwether: But, what was really interesting is that he is, of course, filed all this discovery that we've talked about on other shows. You're entitled to get all kinds of financial information from the other side, so he's filed all these requests for information about what her true net earnings are. I think Forbes had reported in 2017 that she made about 34 million dollars.
Todd Orston: Okay. And you know what, I don't care if it's 34 million, 64 million, 164 million. I really don't care because again the way I look at it is we're talking about child support. And just because somebody is...
Leh Meriwether: Or kids.
Todd Orston: When you're making that kind of money, whether it's 30 million, 60 million a year, you can pretty much afford whatever you want. You can provide for your child and put them in the best schools, buy them the best clothes, all of that, and not even scratch the surface of that kind of a yearly income. It still in my mind comes down to what do you the other parent that doesn't have that earning, what do you need to raise this child or children? What are the costs that you are going to incur to allow you to raise the children in a comfortable lifestyle. Again, you define what comfortable lifestyle is, but how much do you need? To me, 20, 40, 60, 000 dollars per month goes well beyond what I think the amount you need to raise the child is, and it starts to deep heavily into what really is spousal support, because that's how that money is being used.
Leh Meriwether: And we're going to get into that, because there have been some other articles about what he's been doing recently that really raised the question of why he needs this additional money.
Todd Orston: A lot of philanthropy and ... I'm sorry.
Leh Meriwether: Wait until I get through the story of why I was laughing so hard.
Todd Orston: I'm sorry. I guessed I missed [crosstalk 00:09:57]
Leh Meriwether: I guess it depends on your definition of philanthropy.
Todd Orston: All right.
Leh Meriwether: Well, up next we're going to get into what that, air quotes, philanthropy is, but we're also going to talk about in Georgia the guidelines are limited, so on a combined household income of 30,000 a month obviously Britney is way beyond that, but the guidelines actually cap out at a certain number, but the courts in many states that have these guidelines, they can go beyond that based on the income of the parents and the parties, but then it gets very specific, it gets very factual, and were actually going to touch on some things that could cause, make 20 000 a month reasonable.
Leh Meriwether: And so, you definitely don't want to miss that, we're going to dive in to that and... I just can't wait to talk about his ...
Todd Orston: Philanthropic.
Leh Meriwether: I can't. I would have a hard time taking this case.
Leh Meriwether: Partly because you would make fun of me relentlessly.
Todd Orston: Oh without a doubt.
Leh Meriwether: We'll be back in a minute.
Leh Meriwether: Welcome back everyone, and with me is Todd Orson, Todd and I are partners at the law firm Heterotrimer and Tharp and you're listening to Heterotrimer and Tharp radio on the New Talk 106.7. And today, we are breaking down the question of, is 20 000 a month in child support enough.
Todd Orston: Yeah, I may have a breakdown, with that kind of question.
Leh Meriwether: We're not trying to make ... just take a pause, for a moment. We're laughing and everything, we're trying to make this... I mean this is a serious situation. For a lot of people there's no question, it's very serious, but for a lot of other people, for most people, they have a hard time comprehending that much money, period. Let alone that much money for only child support. As we usually try to do, we try to lighten up a very serious subject and have fun with it just because ... I mean gosh, research out there says that if you can laugh while you're learning, you're more likely to remember it. So that's what we're doing. We should have a perfect memory of this case when were done.
Todd Orston: I laugh so often I should be like Einstein.
Leh Meriwether: Maybe you are.
Todd Orston: Maybe I am.
Leh Meriwether: Alright, so when we left off we were talking about the situation where 20 000 might be enough and where the courts are allowed to increase the child support beyond the guidelines are situations of high income earners and here's why. And it makes a lot of sense. You don't want to have a situation where in one house the ... and I am actually going to pull ... this is a quote from his lawyer apparently, but he said “It's not fair that in one house that the child can pick out the pony they want to ride for the day, or four-wheeler, or whatever fancy expensive item that they can have for the day, and in the other house they are...” I think the lawyer said “...mowing the lawn with dad”. So they don't want that discrepancy between the households.
Leh Meriwether: But they want the kids to have a decent household at both places, so whether with mom or with dad it's a decent household. So for that reason they can deviate from the child support guidelines in a court a little bit more because, like I said you don't want one kid in one house living in a cardboard box and the other living in a mansion, I mean with each parent.
Leh Meriwether: So there are situations where that makes sense. You know, California is very expensive to live. You could, here in Georgia for 300 000 dollars, that same house would cost you probably like 1.2 million in California. That's what I've been told. Cause I've had some people move over here from there.
Todd Orston: Depending on where you live. My extended family is from L.A.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah.
Todd Orston: So it might even be more than that. There are homes that here might be considered almost a knock-down, and they're going for 1.5 to 1.7 million dollars.
Leh Meriwether: Right, so the mortgage on that is a lot.
Todd Orston: Yep.
Leh Meriwether: And so, you know, we're getting serious just for a minute. We don't know the full situation over there, but here in Georgia that just sounds like a lot because we know what the mortgages are over here. Maybe over there the mortgage is 8 grand a month. Okay, which would eat a lot...and that's just to have a normal house. Now I understand Britney Spears according to the article has something like a 13 000 foot neoclassical Italian like villa ...
Todd Orston: Well she's very classy, she needs ...
Leh Meriwether: Yeah, she does. And she has 28 acres of land in a gated community apparently, according to the article she has an elevator, a library, a wine cellar and a pool amongst other things.
Todd Orston: Here's the problem. The problem that I have is that on a smaller scale we deal with this all the time. I understand the concept of considering the lifestyle in both homes. Obviously we've talked about this. Obviously, you don't want in one home, dads driving a Lamborghini and has a 13 000 square foot mansion. And over here your other parent is living in an old refrigerator box and alley. Obviously there needs to be some consideration that hey, in order to take care of a child or children, you need to consider lifestyle.
Leh Meriwether: Yep.
Todd Orston: And you need to bump that other parent up a little bit so that the child doesn't go into squalor when visiting them. The problem is how far beyond it gets. And we deal with this going to my original point, all the time on a much smaller scale.
Todd Orston: A situation where, let's say, the one parent, and I'm just going to use it as an example. A father who works and earns let's say, a million. Not 34 million, not 100 million, but lets say a million dollars, a really really high income. Well, at the end of the divorce, more than likely, even with alimony and even with child support, the mother in that situation, and we've represented many of them, isn't going to be able to live the exact lifestyle that the father does. Okay? We've gotten great, very large alimony awards for clients, we've gotten very good child support awards, but at the end of the day, the father who is still earning is going to make more. And we deal with it all the time. Where a mother is like "well okay, what can I buy?, can I still afford that 4 million dollar house?" No, probably not. So to me trying to equalize doesn't make sense.
Leh Meriwether: Right, well that's not what child support is for.
Todd Orston: It should be for. Alimony, now if you have a good alimony argument and you can go in and take 50% of the person's income in order to support your lifestyle as the former spouse, more power to you, that's great. But child support should be more limited to the child's needs and a child doesn't need you, the other parent driving a Lamborghini.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah.
Todd Orston: Okay, do they need a roof over their head? Yes. Does it need to be a nice neighborhood? Yeah, fine. I am okay with that. But at some point you need to say enough is enough.
Leh Meriwether: And so the other interesting thing is... I think that what's driving you ... if we're looking at the article, there's a few things, but one of them is that he has not accounted for where that money is going. So for example, if you and I, if he were to come to us to represent him we would say “alright, great, so you say you need more, account for where you're spending the 20 right now”.
Todd Orston: Well, establish what the material change in circumstance, what has happened ...
Leh Meriwether: I think he's claiming, let's assume for this discussion that she's making more money and he's making less, which is a change.
Todd Orston: So other than the increase in her income, which is important. Other than that, explain why 20 000 isn't enough and why we need to bump it, double it or even triple.
Leh Meriwether: Right, and so if you know, maybe something like to live in a neighborhood it's not as nice, it's 4000 square feet, or 5000 square feet, which is less than half of what she has, but it's costing me 8000 dollars a month in mortgage. The grocery stores are ... I spend just going to the grocery store 3000 a month just for groceries, it could be more. You know how it is when you live in the nicer neighborhood, tend to be all the things surrounding that neighborhood tend to be a lot more expensive, the kids are in private school and I am paying the private school and that private school, it's 5000 a month per child. Well now, the 20 grand is gone. Clearly in this scenario, this hypothetical I've given, he's clearly identified where it's all gone and when he spends the rest of his... he claims he only makes 3000 a month and he spends that on his kids, because later he says “I can't afford to go on vacations with my children, but Britney”... supposedly he's been on some very lavish vacations, so in that scenario, that might be a little more reasonable if you were to say “Hey look, we'd like to be able to take the kids on nice vacations too”, it's going to cost X number of dollars, to go to something that's not even as nice as what she's doing, but something similar.
Todd Orston: But you can't ... that's where again I have the problem. You're not going to achieve equality. Even if you got 60 000 dollars. If she makes 34 million dollars...
Leh Meriwether: It still won't be equal, yeah.
Todd Orston: She could spend 5 million on a vacation. You can't do that based on ...
Leh Meriwether: Oh that would be one heck of a vacation.
Todd Orston: Absolutely.
Leh Meriwether: You could buy a nice yacht with that.
Todd Orston: No but, actually. Yeah you could buy a nice boat. I don't know about... but I mean some of those yacht rentals.
Leh Meriwether: Oh yeah.
Todd Orston: Are sometimes 100 000 plus thousand dollars per day.
Leh Meriwether: A day. Yeah.
Todd Orston: So, could you blow through a million dollars for a single trip? Yeah.
Todd Orston: Should he be allowed? Should he be given enough support to be able to take that exact same trip? No. He shouldn't. I'm sorry, learn how to sing. Do something. I don't know what to tell you. Alright? Get a little bit more talent, okay, go out there and start making 34 million dollars...
Leh Meriwether: Todd is on fire.
Todd Orston: And then you can take that exact same trip that Britney takes, okay, but until that happens, it is offensive, I know we're playing good-cop bad-cop here, but it is offensive to the millions and millions and millions of people who would love to have 20 000 tax free, and they, I have no doubt, would be able to pay their mortgage, and take a couple of nice trips a year. Okay.
Leh Meriwether: So Britney, if you need another lawyer to represent you, Todd is ready.
Todd Orston: I am foaming at the mouth here.
Leh Meriwether: I knew this was going to be a good show. Too much fun.
Todd Orston: It's not over yet.
Leh Meriwether: In fact, we're still going to get into, up next, we're going to get into some of the things that are really getting Todd going. And you'll kind of see why were frustrated, even though I am trying to give the other side and be a little bit serious about this. The facts in this case that we have heard so far don't seem to support his request for a tripling of his child support income. And you know, I think it's rough for us sometimes Todd, because you and I bust our butts, we work hard. And you just sit back and go “Gosh, I would just... 20 grand a month? I would love to have that”.
Todd Orston: I've already told my wife that if Britney is looking for more kids, I'm ... alright my wife cannot now not hear this show.
Leh Meriwether: Yes she can hear the show.
Todd Orston: Only kidding honey.
Leh Meriwether: We'll be right back.
Leh Meriwether: Todd, you are just, you're ready to go to court on this one. You just wish you had this case.
Todd Orston: I'm just going to show up at a court house and start arguing this.
Todd Orston: No judge, she's not my client, but I have some things I have to get off my chest. Not sure if the system works that way, but.
Leh Meriwether: No it doesn't.
Leh Meriwether: Well, I don't know about California. But not here.
Leh Meriwether: Hey, welcome back everyone, I am Le Heterotrimer with me is Todd Orson. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Heterotrimer and Tharp, and you're listening to Heterotrimer and Tharp radio on the New 106.7.
Leh Meriwether: If you want to read more about us you can always check us out online atlantadivorceteam.com. Now, today we've been talking about, is 20 000 dollars a month in child support enough. In particular, we're talking about some recent articles that have been published online about child support dispute between Britney Spears and her ex-husband Kevin Underline. Am I saying that right? Underline. Yeah.
Todd Orston: Doesn't matter.
Leh Meriwether: Now, in seriousness, child support is a serious matter, it's just that number seems so big, and we've talked about last segment we talked about some situations where that child support number might be reasonable, and we laid out some scenarios cause it is California and things tend to be more expensive in California, we're in Georgia where I mean, you could buy a much bigger house for a fraction of the price than in California. And so hearing those numbers sounds like quote, Todd “offensive”. You hear those numbers, it sounds offensive. Almost offensive. If you do the expenses where he might be living, it may be completely legitimate.
Leh Meriwether: But, what he has published in the documents, so I am guessing one of the pleadings he filed, he claims that he can't afford to take the minor children on vacation or give his kids any of the luxury items that he alleges Britney does. He says that she apparently gets them ATVs, every video game system imaginable, iPads, laptops, and the best and abundance of clothing, technology and consumer goods. But here is the problem, that's probably getting Todd really hot. So, what do we do as lawyers when we see a situation like this Todd, when someone comes in here and says “This isn't enough”.
Todd Orston: "Go take singing lessons” and “Try to make a whole bunch more money”?
Leh Meriwether: You're in Britney Spears lawyer mode now, so ...
Todd Orston: Basically, were looking at what are the needs of the children. So if you're coming to us and you're saying “I need more”. I'm taking all the, you know, all of my angst. I'm removing it for the moment and I am saying, “alright, I agree with you”. There are situations when you're dealing with school, when you're dealing with camps, when you're dealing with ... and absolutely, Britney should be paying for all of it. And should they go to mediocre camps? No. If I was making 34 million, my kids would be at the best camps, the best schools, they would have everything that hopefully money could buy within reason and not in a way that it teaches bad lessons. Okay? But with that being said, if somebody comes to us and says “I am, right now, receiving 20 000 dollars”, because keep in mind, once you get to those numbers, it's not an easy calculation, it's not like with Georgia, were just taking dad's income, plugging it in. Mom's income, plugging it in. It's below the 30 000 mark, and therefore the number is just going to be spit out by the calculator.
Leh Meriwether: Right.
Todd Orston: Here, you're saying “Okay, the income goes well beyond the 30 000 mark”. And, you're basically just coming up with a number. And you know, and you're saying “I have to provide in a way that's similar to the way mom can” so you're really just coming up with a number so I'd be looking at them going, “Okay, well let's talk budget. Show me how you're spending. Show me why there's a shortfall. If you're going to make comments like, “I can't even with 20 000 tax free dollars, I can't even take my kids on a nice vacation” tell me where the money is going”.
Leh Meriwether: Right. That's a fair request.
Todd Orston: And unfortunately it sounds, and yes this is part of where my angst comes from. Like, Britney's counsel in this situation has said, "Hey, tell me where the money is going", and then maybe an increase would be reasonable ...
Leh Meriwether: Or we'll cover some of your expenses.
Todd Orston: That's right. And tell me, now you can go into some of the things that they have found in terms of his actual spending.
Leh Meriwether: So several, a couple of months ago there was an article that came out that apparently, Kevin's 40th birthday came along...
Todd Orston: It's a big one.
Leh Meriwether: And he wanted to celebrate.
Todd Orston: It's an important one.
Leh Meriwether: It is an important one, so much so that it required two birthday parties, two birthday parties and one of which was at a Las Vegas strip club. Okay.
Todd Orston: I don't want to brag, but my daughter once had three parties. Now none of them happened at a strip club.
Leh Meriwether: Oh thank goodness.
Todd Orston: Yeah, but you know, I guess we just roll that way.
Leh Meriwether: I was going to get worried.
Leh Meriwether: It didn't end there. So apparently, he had a birthday cake made for him that featured stacks of dollar bills made from fondant.
Todd Orston: That's the hard ... you've never watched Cake Wars?
Leh Meriwether: No I've never watched Cake Wars.
Todd Orston: Or Cake Battle? Or I will eat your cake? I don't know, whatever those shows are.
Leh Meriwether: Oh so it's a type of frosting.
Todd Orston: It's like the hard thing that they ...
Leh Meriwether: Okay, so you know what it is.
Todd Orston: As you can see I am not a baker.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. So it featured, apparently the dollar bills featured his face. So you know that wasn't cheap.
Todd Orston: "Hey [inaudible 00:28:30] want a slice"?
Leh Meriwether: I am going to pass.
Leh Meriwether: So you know that wasn't cheap. And, so he had money guns filled with one dollar bills but 100, one dollar bills, and he was firing them off on stage while scantily clad women danced for the patrons. So he couldn't have enough money for vacations, but he had enough money to, what was your word? To ... charity.
Todd Orston: Oh. Oh yeah. I used a lot of words I think.
Leh Meriwether: You have. I've lost track.
Todd Orston: Philanthropy.
Leh Meriwether: Thank you. Philanthropy. So he was just trying to be...
Todd Orston: He's giving back. He's a regular Robin Hood. He is. Those dollars that he's shooting out there are, he's just giving back to the masses.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. Unfortunately he's not giving it to his children.
Todd Orston: And by the way, that's why we do what we do. Because we can make the opposite as quickly as I can get hot and bothered by some of his demands. I can jump right in and defend his actions.
Leh Meriwether: I think one of the, apparently he was interviewed about this and he, his comment was, well first of he didn't mention the lawsuit or anything. They asked, "What are you doing here, what about this, you're asking for more child support, but you're at a strip club" and he just skipped over that, and made some comments "The older I get, the more I really appreciate my family more, you enjoy your kids and my wife in the time that I have with them". I am sitting here going, "Well then why were you at a strip club?".
Todd Orston: You know what? Look. It's not even my job to judge that kind of behavior. And I am not defending it, but I'm not judging it. But right, as an attorney, and hopefully as a judge, who might hear those facts, if you came to me...
Leh Meriwether: Judge Todd.
Todd Orston: If he came, no, I'm now in lawyer roll.
Leh Meriwether: Okay.
Todd Orston: Came to me, and said "I need more". And I start looking into that kind of spending and the self-portrait cakes that he had made and the money guns and the things like that, and my guess is if we dug in, that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Leh Meriwether: Yup.
Todd Orston: In terms of wasteful spending. I'd be looking at them going "you need to cool it, because I can tell you right now, if I walk in front of a judge and opposing counsel is like, "They're asking for 20 000 more, or 40 000 more, and this is how you're spending?"" You're not going to get that. There have been cases, there have been cases here in Georgia where judges has reduced child support because there is such a pattern of wasteful spending. That the judge here at one situation in particular ...
Leh Meriwether: Yeah, tell us about that.
Todd Orston: Where basically the judge was so concerned about that wasteful spending, to the point where the mother in that situation was going pay-cheque to pay-cheque, was borrowing money from people, and was receiving a ton of support.
Leh Meriwether: I think it was like, what, 10 000 dollars a month or so?
Todd Orston: I think it was even more than that. But it was reduced dramatically, because the judge found that that was wasteful. It was clearly unreasonable and she was misusing the money that was supposed to be for taking care of a child.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah, and in that case didn't she come to court for an increase.
Todd Orston: Yeah. Oh yeah, she wanted an increase. But so it was decreased. So I'd be looking at him going, you need to rein it in. Because you're trying to live the Britney lifestyle on her dime. And you're not Britney. And I don't mean that, I'm not even joking. You aren't the one making 34 million plus dollars a year.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah.
Leh Meriwether: So, yeah he needs to be careful that, I mean, going back to our shows on social media. No telling what that's going to show. And if he's been living it up in other ways, he personally, but then saying "I can't afford to take my kids on vacation", then a court could easily say, "Sir the only reason you can't take your kids on a nice vacation is because you spend all the child support on you". The court will make that analyses when you're in a situation where you're beyond the guidelines here in Georgia. Now if it's under the guidelines the courts don't, like if you're within the guidelines, I don't think I've ever actually had a judge actually look at where someone was spending their child support numbers. Except for maybe a modification of custody case.
Todd Orston: Because, when you're getting to those made up numbers, it usually doesn't come up.
Leh Meriwether: Yep.
Todd Orston: And so, spend it however you're going to spend it as long as the kids are being taken care of, the court doesn't care.
Leh Meriwether: Exactly. Hey, you don't want to miss the next segment. We're going to dive into this just a little bit more.
Leh Meriwether: Man oh man Todd.
Todd Orston: This segment I am goin to calm down.
Leh Meriwether: Oh okay good. You started to hurt my ears.
Leh Meriwether: Alright, hey if you missed the first few segments, sorry. We've been having a great time, we've actually been talking about, "Is 20 000 a month in child support enough?” Because, according to Kevin Underline, it's not. He recently filed an action against Britney Spears, according to this article asking for 60 000 dollars a month. And we've been talking about all kinds of scenarios where that could potentially be okay, but Todd expressed his personal opinion about the reasonableness of it and we've had a good time.
Leh Meriwether: Hey, welcome back everyone. I am Le Heterotrimer and with me is Todd Orson. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Heterotrimer and Tharp. You can read more about us at atlantadivorceteam.com. We handle family law and that's all we handle.
Leh Meriwether: We've been breaking this down and, you know, we've been joking about how some of this stuff seems ridiculous or it seems ridiculous based on the information we have. But I will say that as attorneys, we still represent clients that we won't take ... we work not to present something that's stubbornly litigious, that's the term or totally unreasonable, but you know sometimes people come and they may have a cause of action and if under California law he had a valid cause of action, we as attorneys, we represent clients, we just represent clients. Now, we try to talk our clients into being reasonable about things, and we have withdrawn from cases when clients weren't reasonable so those things happen, or there's situations where lawyers have to withdraw all the time. Because there may be a disagreement on how to handle the case, in fact, John Adams, one of the founders of our country, he represented the British and took a lot of flack for it because of some, I think they killed some people, didn't they? It was a murder trial, was that what it was?
Todd Orston: Yeah, my recollection is that they opened fire on quote on quote, "rioters" and there was a question as to the reasonableness of the use of force.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah.
Todd Orston: And nobody wanted to represent the British soldiers. And he ended up not just representing them, but I believe winning the case.
Leh Meriwether: So, I mean, we as lawyers, we have a duty, and ethical duty to zealously advocate for our clients.
Todd Orston: Now, now let me also jump in. As vocal as I've been, I am not equating this to opening fire on protestors. What I am saying is though is, "look, I understand the rationale". I do. As an attorney, I understand if someone is making 30 plus million dollars a year, asking for 60 000 dollars ...
Leh Meriwether: A month.
Todd Orston: Is sort of a drop in the bucket.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah.
Todd Orston: Okay, so I get that. And we have, like I said, we've represented clients where there were either big requests being made or, or we were making big requests.
Leh Meriwether: Right.
Todd Orston: But, that doesn't mean I think, at it's core it is correct. To your point, and I am summarizing a little bit here, but you are absolutely right. If we're looking at the actual budget, and school is 10 000 dollars a month, or 5000 dollars a month, and on top of that there's summer camps, and there's this and there's that. Getting to 20 000 dollars is not that difficult.
Leh Meriwether: Right.
Todd Orston: The problem I have is when the person getting the twenty, forty, sixty thousand dollars, ain't paying for those things.
Leh Meriwether: Right, or hasn't accounted for where the money is going.
Todd Orston: Right. And that's what we're dealing with here. A situation where not only is he unwilling to disclose how money is being spent, but it is becoming excessively clear that very little of it, other than you know, the things that do benefit a child, like the big home he might live in. And the nice car he might live in. All those types of things, other than that, there's a lot of waste.
Leh Meriwether: That's what it sounds like.
Todd Orston: That's what it sounds like. And that, at it's core is what I have more of a problem with.
Leh Meriwether: And he has four other children that, it almost sounds like, you know, we don't have all the facts. It sounds like he could be taking a lot of this 20 000 and spending it on his other four children.
Todd Orston: I mean, if this child has every game system out there.
Leh Meriwether: There's two.
Todd Orston: Two, if they have every game system out there, I have to believe that, I am getting all choked up. That Britney's either going to just readily agree or her attorney at the very least will convince her that she has to put them in the best school. That she has to, you know...
Leh Meriwether: But that doesn't sound like what the request was.
Todd Orston: Right. If all this is a money grab, then it is for her attorney, that I am confident they're doing, is for her attorney to look at the reasonableness, to look at the spending. To think about those things and then at the end of the day if he just needs more singles for his money gun, then I'm sorry.
Leh Meriwether: He's got his 41st birthday coming up around the corner.
Todd Orston: That's right, I mean, at that rate he might want to do a half birthday. I mean, when I was young I think I remember some half-birthdays. But, then it's a money grab. And I believe it then steps over the line from child support and the true intention of child support, into the realm of just alimony.
Leh Meriwether: Spousal Support.
Todd Orston: Just give me, give me spousal support so I can live a crazy life just like you do. Because of how much money you make.
Leh Meriwether: There was two more things I wanted to touch on from the article. One was, apparently, the Spears' legal team threatened to audit his child support spending and the response from his was saying "Well we want to see your 2017 tax return and we could seek millions of dollars in backed child support pay". Well, I don't know about California law, I don't know about their settlement agreement. In Georgia, when there's an order, period. You can't go back and get backage. If the person two years ago suddenly doubled their income and you waited two years to bring an action...
Todd Orston: That's on you.
Leh Meriwether: That's on you. And that doesn't mean that you get an increase in child support retroactively. There is no retroactive child support.
Todd Orston: Not unless it's specifically states in the agreement that there's going to be some kind of a a true-up provision or that when you make X amount of money, like once per year you're going to...
Leh Meriwether: It's a percentage adjustment.
Todd Orston: Yeah, there's going to be an adjustment, or when on January 1st you're going to provide your tax returns and you're going to show what your income is to open the door potentially to a modification. Now if you have violated that, and not complied with the terms of the agreement, then maybe. Maybe.
Leh Meriwether: Maybe, yeah.
Todd Orston: I am not even saying definitely. I am saying maybe. But, just waking up and going "Oh I know she went from 30 million to 60 million, whatever", that doesn't open the door, at least here in Georgia to any back support. So that would be, our response would be the equivalent of a "yeah whatever".
Leh Meriwether: Yeah.
Todd Orston: That's legal. I know that's legal mumbo-jumbo, but ... yeah whatever.
Leh Meriwether: So the other thing is that what's interesting is that apparently in recent years, Britney has focused a lot of her attention on her two boys and apparently she's been documenting her adventures and parading with ... I am just reading from the article, extravagant tropical vacations and stuff like that, and she's been documenting it on Instagram, so this goes back to the whole social media thing. If you sort of, in his perspective, I am not trying to defend him in any way, but from his perspective he's like "Well you're throwing it in my face, that you're doing all these fancy things". Now, I tell you I am a hard worker, I don't know how I'd ever make 34 million a year, but I would be busting my butt ...
Todd Orston: As your partner, I really hope you can do it.
Leh Meriwether: That's true, cause that means you're making the same amount.
Leh Meriwether: But, I would be busting my butt to be going out and making more money. But that's just me. So, not trying to judge anybody here, just wanted to have fun. Wanted to have fun with a subject that some, like most people can't comprehend getting 20 000 dollars a month, let alone tax free for child support.
Todd Orston: And this goes back to my point. He can't compete with that. And he shouldn't be allowed to compete with that. She makes so much money. That she can do things that he can never do. And we deal with that on smaller scales all the time.
Leh Meriwether: But she works hard at that. She has talent, she busts her butt.
Todd Orston: And even if you didn't think she was a talent. There are people who like her. Millions of people. And they pay her a lot of money as an entertainer. It doesn't matter whether you like her or not, she earns that money. And so the problem I have is this argument that I need to live the crazy celebrity life, because she gets to live this crazy celebrity life. And that doesn't fly with me, okay.
Leh Meriwether: We're about end of the show. But this isn't the only case. I know you found some, some other example of child support awards, lets go through them real quick.
Todd Orston: I mean look, there have been numerous cases, 50 Cent, Curtis Jackson, I mean, he ended up paying about 11 000 a month, Madonna, 15 000 a month, Michael Strahan, he was about, let's see, Halle Berry was 16 000, Michael Strahan, 18 000, Nas was 25 000...
Leh Meriwether: These are monthly numbers.
Todd Orston: Mark-Anthony, he was 26 800, I'll jump right to, oh I've got a hit. I've got to tell you about Mel Gibson, he was 30 000 a month. And jumping ahead, Eddie Murphy, he was 51 000. Donald Trump, he made America great again by paying Ivanka 54 166. Kirk Kerkorian used to be the owner of MGM resorts paid 100 000 dollars per month.
Leh Meriwether: Wow.
Todd Orston: Again. To me, ridiculous. If you're married and spousal support gets to that level, so be it. 100 000 per month, I can't even imagine what I could buy my kids for that.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah.
Leh Meriwether: I'd just like to have 100 000 dollars a year. For my kids. That would be fantastic.
Todd Orston: Yeah. Seriously.
Leh Meriwether: Hey everyone, thanks so much for listening, we had a great time on this show, just breaking this down, this celebrity situation involving child support, we just don't get to do that very often. So we just wanted to have a little bit of fun today and talk a little bit about the law at the same time. Thanks so much for listening.
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