50 Cent has a song called Baby By Me Baby where the chorus goes: “Have a baby by me baby and be a millionaire.” Basically meaning that because 50 Cent is so rich having a baby by him makes the mom an instant millionaire because of the child support. Now 50 is not the only musical artist to comment on the subject of child support. Take for instance Kanye’s infamous Gold Digger lyrics “18 years, 18 years, She got one of your kids, got you for 18 years, I know somebody paying child support for one of his kids, His baby mamma’s car and crib is bigger than his… She was supposed to buy your shorty Tyco with your money, She went to the doctor got lipo with your money. ” These lyrics touch on an area that is the source of much controversy, what should child support payments actually be used for?
I think everyone can agree that liposuction for the receiving parent should be against the rules but what about what about mansions, exotic cars and trips around the world? Anytime a celebrity, usually male, gets divorced (or impregnates a woman) and has to pay thousands of dollars a month to their baby’s mama in child support, the social media world has no shortage of comments. Normally more profane versions of the following: “she doesn’t need that much”, “she needs to get a job”, “I bet she’s spending all that money on herself.” Normally this is a male issue. But people started taking notice of women paying child support when Britney Spears had to pay Kevin Federline (remember that) and now with the recent reports of Halle Berry’s situation with her baby daddy, many are realizing that child support is now a gender crossing issue.
Whether it is a mother or a father receiving the child support payments their lifestyle choices come under scrutiny. Did they need that new car? Why did they buy a bigger house? They spent how much on shoes? It is assumed that they are using the child support money to not only up their child’s game but their game too. And let’s face it, they probably are. Some of these celebrities are paying more a month in child support than what most people make in a year. Ms. Spears is paying $20,000, Russell Simmons is paying $40,000, and Charlie Sheen is “winning” by paying $55,000. Remember this is in a month, not a year.
So the question becomes exactly how much is needed to support a child and what exactly should child support go toward? Child support essentially is used for the child’s expenses, such as food, clothing, and ordinary educational needs. That brings me back to my original question, what about mansions, exotic cars and trips around the world? Do kids need those? There can be an argument made that a child who gets to live in a nice home, ride in a nice car and take trips around the world is benefitting in life and since a child cannot do those things alone it makes sense that a parent be involved and benefitting as well. Some states allow for child support money to be used to “improve the standard of living of the custodial household to improve the lives of the children” which is the case in California. So in that case 50 was right, a parent can live the millionaire lifestyle from collecting child support. Is that right? Well the courts don’t seem to mind but that doesn’t mean it is right. Or does it?
Is there a way for a custodial parent to get around using some of the $55,000 a month child support payment to improve the home the child is living in? I mean if that much money is coming in to support your child then who is to say that your child doesn’t need a bigger house with a swimming pool and it’s own movie theatre? There are several states that allow courts to demand an accounting on expenses and spending from custodial parents, but normally only if it can be shown that the child’s needs are be neglected completely. So really is this measure any good?
Should there be a child support reform? Should there be child support police to investigate where the money is actually going? And if so, who pays for that? Again, under California law, child support money can be used however the custodial parent sees fit and no accounting is necessary. I think we all know plenty of parents, including our own, who raise well-adjusted children on thousands less than what some celebrities pay in child support.
Maybe there needs to be a determination on much it costs to support the child and that anything above what is needed to provide a comfortable living go into a trust for when the child gets older. Sounds good but I don’t see that happening anytime soon, the courts won’t want to deal with that kind of policing and there will be someone arguing that the money is for when they are a “child” not an adult.
So does having a baby by the rich and famous make one a millionaire? Apparently it does. So 50 was right. Is it fair?