I hope her fourth husband is not as much a junior to Ashton Kutcher as the dude who lost his car was to John McClane... I mean Bruce Willis. You're reading correctly: according to several sources, including TMZ.com, radaronline.com, and magazine covers everywhere, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are getting a divorce. This process will likely involve millions, but what I am most curious about is whether or not Moore would be entitled to child support from Kutcher, who is not the biological father of her children.
The rumours began to swirl when US Weekly spotted a moving truck outside the couples' L.A. area home. Their six-year marriage was jeopardized by Kutcher's well-publicized affair with Sara Leal this past September. Attempts to reconcile, which included a private camping trip near Santa Barbara last weekend, have been futile thus far. Assuming Demi was seeking child support, and she and Ashton were Canadian and their matter was resolved through the Canadian Legal System, what areas of the Family Law Act and/or the Child Support Support Guidelines should they be advised of?
Section 5 of the Child Support Guidelines reads as follows:
Spouse in place of a parent
5. Where the spouse against whom a child support order is sought stands in the place of a parent for a child, the amount of a child support order is, in respect of that spouse, such amount as the court considers appropriate, having regard to these Guidelines and any other parent's legal duty to support the child.
Was Mr. Kutcher "standing the place of a parent?" The Supreme Court of Canada in Chartier v. Chartier said that that a person demonstrated a settled intention to parent, and stood in the place of a parent, when they have shown a settled intention to treat the child as part of their own family. This means they will take into consideration things like the quantity and quality of time spent with the children; whether or not Mr. Kutcher was contributing to the decision-making with respect to the children; and whether or not Mr. Kutcher was open about his intention to treat the child as part of his own family. This list of factors is merely a glimpse at some of the many that the Court will consider.
The media often portrayed Moore, Kutcher, and Moore's three daughters as tight-knit unit, and one that frequently incorporated the presence of their biological father, Bruce Willis. Assuming there is enough evidence to back-up a potential claim for entitlement to support, establishing the quantum becomes intriguing because of Kutcher's annual income, which is well over $150,000.00. As a result of Section 4 of the Child Support Guidelines, the Court has discretion to award an amount different than the Table amount of support where the Table amount is deemed inappropriate.
A third issue surrounding child support in this case would be what impact, if any, the monthly amount received by Moore from Willis would have on Kutcher's obligation to pay moving forward. Perhaps that is a subject for next week's Blog.
For more information on Child Support, please see our website.