Kevin Costner’s acrimonious divorce from estranged wife Christine Baumgartner has reached an important milestone. After several months of disputes, Costner was ordered to pay Baumgartner nearly $130,000 in monthly support for their three children.
This order comes after much legal back-and-forth about how much was necessary. Costner originally offered to pay the still-eyewatering sum of $51,940 a month to maintain the kids’ standard of living. However, Baumgartner fired back, arguing that this amount was not enough for her to provide their children with the lifestyle to which they are accustomed. She demanded $248,000 a month, citing Costner’s $2 million monthly income as grounds for her claim.
In early July, the dispute was finally addressed by the court. Using California’s strict child support calculator, the judge reached the final amount of $129,755 per month. The former couple was also ordered to split medical and extracurricular expenses equally, while Costner will cover their education costs.
It may be a surprise that you can negotiate child support in California, but it’s both possible and often preferable. Here’s how the process works and how you may be able to set different terms for the order.
California’s Child Support Calculator
In California, all parents are legally obligated to financially provide for their children. However, when parents separate, there are often disputes about how much assistance is necessary. To address these issues, the state has developed a strict calculation to determine who should pay and how much.
This calculation includes details like:
- How many children the parents share
- Their respective incomes and assets
- Their other financial obligations, such as support orders for other kids
- Any tax deductions and health insurance costs
The number generated through this calculation is considered the default. However, it is possible to request a higher or lower monthly amount in certain circumstances.
Setting Your Child Support Amount
Couples can work together to draft support agreements that differ from the standard state calculation. Both parents will provide full financial disclosures and calculate the standard “guideline” number. They can then negotiate whether they want the monthly amount to be higher or lower and who will be responsible for health insurance and other costs.
Once they agree, they can draft the final agreement with an experienced family law attorney. It must include the guideline amount and explain why the proposed number is better for the kids. If the judge agrees with the reasoning, this number will be used in the support order instead of the guideline’s result.
It is important to note that you cannot waive the right or responsibility of child support. While you can accept a lower monthly amount, a support order is necessary when setting up most custody orders. If you attempt to waive support, the judge may deny your request and apply the standard calculation instead.
Talk to Experts at Viola Law About Your Support Orders
Kevin Costner’s divorce is an excellent example of what to avoid during your own. If you want to negotiate child support the right way, the team at the Viola Law Firm P.C. can help. We have spent over 35 years helping Bay Area families achieve better support orders. Get in touch today to discover how we can help.