If you are a follower of celebrity news, it is unlikely you missed the reports that Britney Spears and ex-husband Kevin Federline are back in court in Los Angeles.
Federline is seeking an increase in the current $20,000 he receives monthly in child support payments for their two sons, aged 11 and 12. Court documents indicate that Federline has experienced a recent decrease in salary, earning less than one percent of Spears’ annual income, and therefore requires more child support in order to provide some balance between the lifestyle the sons experience with him and that experienced at their mother’s residence.
Federline’s pleadings exemplify the lifelong obligation that marriage brings with it – an obligation most of us will be unaware of when happily in love and thinking of betrothal. Even upon divorce, it is often difficult to sever all ties with the other party, especially where there are children involved. Situations such as the one Spears is currently experiencing can be difficult as a parent will wish to provide for their child, but also wishes to see evidence that the child support payments are being used towards the children and not for the personal use of the spouse, as is currently being requested by Spears’ lawyers.
In the UK, unless the non-resident parent is a very high earning (over £3k per week) then the court has no jurisdiction. Instead, the Child Maintenance Service is the governing body. However, it uses a similar approach to the US courts, identifying the parent’s income and basing child support on that.. There is little or no discretion, and it is difficult to change the amount being paid unless a change in salary can be shown – time will tell whether Federline will be able to assert his change in salary in court.
Spears and Federline join a long list of celebrities whose child support obligations and legal battles have been publicised; examples include Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger and many more. Matters become even more complicated if, as in the circumstance of Madonna and Guy Ritchie, the couple live in different countries and custody and payments must be determined by a court in one jurisdiction and then approved in another.
A simple internet search will reveal the multitudes of celebrities as well as everyday individuals who have had to navigate themselves through the court systems with regard to child support obligations. Courts do not take these payments lightly, and it is important to know what one’s child support obligations are as they are likely to continue until the child in question turns 18, if not longer.