An athlete earning $5,000,000 per year would pay the unwed mother of his child $245,500 per year in child support, if you go by the child support guidelines in the Florida statutes. Does the mother of a three-month-old child, who has been supporting herself on an annual income of $25,000, really need nearly ten times that amount to support her child?
Several decades ago the federal government pressured the states to establish child support guidelines so that there would be the same court-ordered child support paid in two separate cases in the same state where the dads made the same income and the moms made the same income. The states have adopted the idea and it has brought about consistency within each state in the amounts parents of the same income would pay.
There is an exception to the use of those guidelines, though, and it involves wealthy parents. The reason for it is that the guidelines in many states are poorly drawn and, for example, could require a dad to pay $1,500 plus 5% of all income over $120,000 per year as child support. That doesn't sound unfair until you have a parent with really high income. Courts have allowed a deviation from the child support guidelines in these cases in a concept called "good fortune child support." Instead of just looking at the child support guidelines, the courts look at what the child actually needs. Many times, this results in a smaller amount being paid directly to the mother of the child, but also results in a trust being created for the child so that there will always be sufficient funds for private schools, sports lessons, vacations, tutoring and the like.
The idea is that then the money gets used for the child and not just to allow the mother to buy nicer things. Until the child support guidelines in each state get rewritten to consider this issue, the state courts will continue to make exceptions for rich people.
Wealthy people go by different standards when it comes to paying child support.
Stann Givens has been practicing law in Florida for 41 years and is the founding partner of Givens Givens Sparks. He has been Board Certified by the Florida Bar as a Marital and Family Lawyer since 1991, on the list of "Best Lawyers in America" since 1998, and been named a "Super Lawyer" since 2006.