Is $20,000.00 a month too much for an 11 month old?

Last week TMZ and other news outlets reported that Mel Gibson's ex-partner and mother of his 11-month-old child, Oksana Grigorieva, was awarded with $20,000.00 per month in child support.

Two of Oksana's lawyers, Dan O'Malley and Daniel Horowitz, reportedly stated that this amount might be considered to be very high for the majority of the population, but since Mel Gibson's personal worth is estimated to be over $1 billion dollars, "it's a very modest award by Hollywood standards."

Would this award be the same if Mel and Oksana lived in Ontario?

In Ontario, the Child Support Guidelines presumptively determine the amount that is to be paid in support obligations. The determination of the quantum of support payable, as per the Guidelines is generally based on the following:

  1. The number of "children of the marriage"; as defined by the Divorce Act, or the dependants to be cared for when the Divorce Act does not apply; and
  2. The payor parent's line 150 income as per their annual Income Tax Return.

In this case, the child has been determined to be Mel's child as he is not disputing that he is the biological father. Also, the child is living primarily with Oksana, thus making Mel is the payor parent and as such, he has an obligation to pay a monthly amount in support to her for the purposes of caring for the child.

It should be noted that the Courts do have some discretion to vary the amount of monthly child support to be paid if one of the following applies:

  1. The child is over the age of majority;
  2. The payor parent earns more than $150,000.00 per year;
  3. Where the child resides with each parent for more than 40% of the time; or
  4. If the amount to be paid would cause an undue hardship on the payor parent;

As noted above, Mel's net worth is currently estimated to be over $1 billion dollars. Again, as a starting point for the purposes of utilizing the Guidelines Table, his annual income as stated on line 150 of his Income Tax Return would be used. Since it is likely that his annual income on his Income Tax Return is well over $150,000.00, if the court considered that the amount as determined by the Guidelines Table is inappropriate in the circumstances they may order an amount that encompasses:

  1. the amount as outlined by the Guidelines Table for the first $150,000.00 of income;
  2. the amount the Court considers to be appropriate having regard to the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of the child and the financial ability of each parent to contribute to the support of the child; and
  3. the amount for any special and extraordinary expenses for the child.

As it is likely that Mel makes grossly in excess of $150,000.00 per year, a Court might consider, as the Court in California did, that $20,000.00 per month is an appropriate amount for the support of the child taking all of the above into consideration. It is difficult to estimate the figure that an Ontario court would consider appropriate in this situation, however, in light of the circumstances, it would probably award an amount that is much higher than an average Order would be.

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