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Celebrity breakups illustrate child support battles

Most breakups of California couples will not produce headlines about lavish lifestyles and child support payments reaching into the five figures. The demands of celebrity parents, their divorce settlements and court rulings, however, reveal the role that income plays in the determination of child support payments.

Ex-spouses and romantic partners in celebrity breakups often request money to maintain the lifestyle that children experienced during the parental relationship. For example, a court ordered actor Brendan Fraser to pay $75,000 every month to support his three sons. Fraser insists that he no longer has the income to justify such an amount although his ex-wife accuses him of concealing assets. Female stars like Halle Berry and Madonna also pay huge sums. A court order requires Berry to pay $16,000 every month to her ex-boyfriend. Her custody dispute also resulted in an order to pay her ex-boyfriend's attorney fees of $300,000 and a back payment of $115,000. Madonna pays an estimated $15,000 a month in child support even though her ex-husband Guy Ritchie possesses a personal fortune valued at $45 million.

Actor Charlie Sheen at one time paid four women approximately $100,000 each to cover the expenses for his children. The collapse of his career, however, reduced his income, and the four mothers of his children agreed to lower monthly payments of $25,000 each in acknowledgement of his financial woes.

Ccourts use state guidelines as benchmarks when determining child support. Non-custodial parents who are expected to be ordered to pay support might want to meet with an attorney to learn what to expect.

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