New York residents can learn from recent headlines concerning Brooke Mueller's drug relapse and Charlie Sheen's subsequent petition to decrease his $55,000 a month child support payments for their 4-year-old twins. Sheen requested that the court reduce his monthly payments to zero, arguing that Mueller is currently in rehab and thus has no costs associated with the care and support of their children. In support of his request, Sheen referred to the case of his previous co-star, Jon Cryer, in 2009. Cryer was able to have his child support payments reduced from $10,000 to $8,000 a month after his ex-wife's custody role was reduced to monitored visitation following an arrest for alleged child abuse.
Sheen admitted to an income of $739,075 a month but argued the amount factored under the income formula generally used to determine child support far exceeds the amount needed for the reasonable care of the children, especially considering they are no longer in Mueller's care. Furthermore, Sheen already pays $30,000 per month for the mortgage, taxes and insurance on the house where Mueller lived with the boys, in addition to the twins' schooling and medical expenses, payments he plans to continue making.
Under New York law, modifications of child support can be sought if a party can show the court there has been a substantial change of circumstances. Naturally, this showing varies from case to case. As in Sheen's case, a change in custody arrangements can prompt a desire for a change in support. The needs of the child can also cause such a change in circumstances. Consulting with a family law attorney may be able to help determine if a significant change will support a petition for modification.
Additional source: Legalease Child Support, Determining the Amount Under the Child Support Standards Act, NY State Bar Association, http://www.nysba.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=LegalEASE_Informational_Pamphlets&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=46509
Source: NY Daily News, "Charlie Sheen makes legal move to stop paying ex Brooke Mueller $55K a month in child support", Nancy Dillon, July 11, 2013