August 28, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
This is the type of article the news media think (a) is worth reading at all and (b) reveals something important about our system of child support and alimony (Jobs & Hire, 8/25/14).
It seems actress Halle Berry has been ordered to pay model Gabriel Aubry, their child’s father, some $240,000 per year in child support. Now, as I’ve said before, that’s ridiculous. I’m well aware that Berry is worth a ton of money and makes scads more by the minute. I don’t know her exact net worth, but I’m as certain as I can be that she can afford the payments.
But I’m also certain that no child requires that much every year to keep him/her in Pampers and eating appropriate food. The simple fact is that the amount Berry is paying has nothing to do with child support and everything to do with Aubry support. Aubry likely earns nothing like what Berry does and so the court and the law want their daughter to have the same lifestyle she enjoys with her mother.
Of course, when it comes to a child having the basics, I’m all for that. But Berry and Aubry provide Nahla far, far more. So what’s wrong with Nahla coming to understand that Daddy doesn’t earn as much as Mommy and therefore, when she’s with him, her lifestyle is a bit more restricted than it is with her. After all, she’s going to figure that out eventually anyway and of course there’s some value to her knowing the truth. Besides, kids adjust. If things at Daddy’s house aren’t identical to things at Mommy’s, it’s really no big deal to them.
The fact is that child support should bear some resemblance to the amount of money it takes to raise a child over the amount it takes to support an adult without a child. In more affluent families, that might mean a higher amount than in less affluent ones. But the idea that Halle Berry should be paying $20k a month to “support her daughter” is insane.
But what’s also insane, or at least bordering thereon, is the linked-to article. Its purpose is to make us feel sorry for Berry because of the huge financial hit she’s supposedly endured by paying on the child support order. To put it mildly, no one’s buying it.
According to some reports, after the highly publicized custody battle with her ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry, Halle Berry's net worth will take a hit and was said to suffer over the hundreds and thousands of dollars in fees and fines over their legal dispute.
The Catwoman actress, Halle Berry may want to contemplate selling her gold sculpture after a Los Angeles family court judge ordered her to pay $240,000 to Gabriel Aubry, her ex-boyfriend and the father of her 4-year old daughter, Nahla for yearly child support. The figure is said to create a dent in the actress' net worth.
No, actually it doesn’t. That’s because her net worth is reported to be about $70 million which, if invested at 4% per annum would pay her a swift $2.8 million without Berry’s ever lifting a finger. But of course she does lift a finger; she’s a working actress who, according to the article, earns something like $16 million a year.
So enquiring minds want to know how $240,000 a year will “create a dent in the actress’ net worth.” In truth, her net worth will continue to climb quite nicely every year unless Berry’s a major league spendthrift or a deeply incompetent investor. To most of us it’s hard to grasp, but to Berry, $20k a month is chump change.
All of which brings me to the point that this is the type of thing the news media choose to illustrate the insanity of the child support system. Do they report on the guy who goes to prison because he lost his minimum wage job and can’t afford $100 a week? Do they write articles about child support orders set higher than non-custodial parents can pay? What about custodial parents who refuse visitation or a federal government that couldn’t care less if a man sees his child as ordered? Unconscionable rates of interest charged by states on child support arrears?
Nope. None of that gets their attention. None of the real cruelty of the child support system much interests them. But if Halle Berry has to pay money she can find under the backseat of her car, then it’s cause for weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The Fourth Estate in action. It’s not a pretty sight.
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