He'll Be Back... In Court

Edward Furlong, an actor best known for portraying the young John Connor in the greatest action movie of all-time, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, has been accused of being a "Deadbeat Dad" by his ex-spouse, Rachael Kneeland. The two were married in the Spring of 2006 and were divorced three years later. Their son Ethan was born in the Fall of 2006 and while the parents have joint custody, Ethan resides with Ms. Kneeland as a result of Mr. Furlong's sordid past (he has a history of drug and alcohol abuse and has allegedly been violent towards both Kneeland and his son).

According to TMZ.com, The Los Angeles County Superior Court has decided that as of October 2, 2011, Mr. Furlong owes $15,000.00 in back-dated child support. This amount is representative of $12,108 that went unpaid, plus $3,840.00 in interest. Since December of 2010, Furlong has paid Kneeland just $3,201.00 - which is hardly adequate. Furlong has argued that since January of this year he has been broke.

Some people raise an eyebrow when they read about actors or athletes who claim they cannot make their support payments, child or spousal, on account of a lack of finances. In most cases I would argue that the suspicions are justified, but there can be circumstances where it is possible for an actor like Mr. Furlong to not only be unable to make the necessary child support payments, but also to have difficulties maintaining a minimal standard of living for himself. The payor of child support can make the argument that his or her income fluctuates unpredictably from year to year, and as such the determination of his or her actual income for the purposes of calculating the quantum of child support is subject to some discretion. Assuming acting is Mr. Furlong's sole occupation and source of income, if you take a look at his recent filmography, it does not require much common sense to realize that Mr. Furlong is not earning much money.

Assume for a minute that this matter was taking place in Ontario, Canada and consider Section 17 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines:

Pattern of income

17. (1) If the court is of the opinion that the determination of a spouse's annual income under section 16 would not be the fairest determination of that income, the court may have regard to the spouse's income over the last three years and determine an amount that is fair and reasonable in light of any pattern of income, fluctuation in income or receipt of a non-recurring amount during those years.

This section of the Guidelines can work in the favour of both parties under circumstances such as this. For example, if Mr. Furlong is in fact broke on account of not earning much, if any, money this year, then the Court may look at his pattern of income over the last three years and mandate that he pay an amount of child support that is reflective of this sudden drop in income. Conversely, if next year Mr. Furlong scores a role in the next installment of the Terminator franchise and is paid handsomely for it, then his monthly child support payments would increase, probably to an amount higher than is currently stipulated, as a result of the continually changing pattern.

This section of the Guidelines is helpful for the Courts because it gives them the requisite flexibility to ensure on the one hand that payors do not constantly go deeper and deeper into arrears and on the other it ensures that any child of the marriage will benefit from significant and/or unexpected increases in the payor spouse's income.

In any case, Mr. Furlong cannot escape the payment of the arrears owing, but there is a chance that the quantum he has been ordered to pay would be changed, based on Section 17 of the Guidelines. Judgment Day is coming for the leader of the resistance after all.

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