Lawrence Taylor, the Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker for the Giants, back in court on Friday. The hearing was about whether the media would be allowed in the courtroom for the final hearing. The case revolves around child support. LT has a 12 year old child, he has never seen. He is currently paying $456 per week in child support or $1824 a month. The mother wants to increase the support as the child has apparently been diagnosed with Crohn's disease. LT wants to decrease child support. LT is not behind in his support payments, so there is no issue there.
The judge ruled that the media would be allowed. It is standard practice, according to the article, that New Jersey family law hearings are open to the public except in cases of abuse and neglect. Obviously, any court is concerned with protecting the privacy of a minor child. Usually, the child is not present in the courtroom. Believe me, judges hate it when parents bring their child to hearings, whether the media is there or not. The last thing a child needs to hear is mommy and daddy fighting over who gets the child or how much the child is going to cost. As the child will not be present, and the media seems to be careful about disclosing information, I see no problem with the media being present. If LT does not want the media following him, he can behave in a less newsworthy manner.
Which brings me to why the case is going to a hearing at all. It never looks good when a parent wants to reduce child support payments. Absent a really good reason, like being completely out of work for a really long period of time, you find a way to make those payments. You work too jobs, you sacrifice luxuries (like hookers) for yourself to make those payments. I don't know why LT is looking to reduce payments. But the fact remains, that is what he is asking.
Based on what he is paying, under the revised Maryland Child Support Guidelines (finally updated after far too long), the combined parental income is at least $14K a month. Most of us are looking at that going, he makes $14K a month and thinks $1824 is too much for his child. Let's go deeper into the caculations here.
In Maryland, you take both parents income, minus any pre-existing child support being paid. LT has at least three other children. However, at least one of those children is an adult, so no child support there. It is possible he is paying child support to the mother of his other kids from whom he is divorced. That amount, if any, would reduce his monthly income. Once you have established both parents income, you add them together for the combined income. Then from the combined income, you figure the percentage of each parent's share of that total amount based on their income (for instance, a combined income of $900 per month, where one parent makes $600 and one parent makes $300 would yield a figure of 66% for the first parent and 33% for the other parent). Then you check the statutory guidelines for the base child support figured given the combined income and the number of children. In LT's case we have an estimated combined income (it is unknown how much the mother makes) of $14K per month. That number for one child yields a base child support of $1824 per month.
That is the base figure. From there, you add in other things such as healthcare, daycare expenses if necessary, and extraordinary medical expenses. Extraordinary medical expenses are those expenses that are not regular doctor visits, checkups, the like. Treatment for Crohn's disease would fall under extraordinary medical expenses. You add those expenses, whatever they are to the base child support figure that you found in the statute. You have to add these in because all these costs vary so much so you have to take into account their actual expense. Also, it is fairly clear that the base child support amount does not reflect what it truly costs to raise a child.
Once you have the base figure and all the extras figured in, you then divide that total by each parent's percentage of income. That final number is each parent's child support obligation. The parent the child is living with is already paying that amount, so does not need to pay the other parent. It is the parent the child is not living with who has to pay the parent who has the child, the obligated amount.
These numbers tend to be very straightforward. Although arguments can be made to go up or down from them, it is tough to do. You run up against the excellent public policy of parents should sacrifice to provide for their children.
I would love to see LT's arguments for why he thinks his sick child should receive even less money per month. This case cannot help his public image where he already plead guilty to sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute this year. Perhaps, it would be best if Mr. Taylor is so concerned about the media portraying him in a negative light to just pay up. This is a 12 year old girl we are talking about. She already has never met her father. Now, he is trying to support her financially even less? He made be a Pro Football Hall of Famer, but Father of the Year he is not.