In 2005, F and M had an affair that resulted in their daughter, Z. F is
a married movie producer and director and M is a part time hair stylist.
F has three children with his wife, and M has two other children from
past relationships. For the first eight years of Z’s life, F provided
M with about $5,000 per month for Z’s care. M had sole custody of
Z, and F had no contact with Z whatsoever.
However, in 2014, M filed a petition with the court to increase Z’s
support so that Z’s lifestyle would be similar to F’s other
children. Both F and M provided the court with their Income and Expense
Declaration forms. These documents showed that F earned about $190,000
per month and M earned about $1900 per month. Based on those documents, the
DissoMaster program determined Z’s child support at $11,840 per month. Based
on M’s accounting of F’s tax documents, F earned over $300,000
per month and child support should be $25,325 per month.
DissoMaster is a privately developed computer program used to calculate guideline
child support under the algebraic formula required by Family Code section
4055. It includes the wages of each parents, amount of time each parent
spends with the child, and other factors affecting the costs of raising
a child. The court must use the determination of the
DissoMaster, unless the amount exceeds the best interest of the child, and why it
does so. The court must also state on the record the reason for its findings.
F argued for lower child support, because he is an extraordinarily high
wage earner under Family Code section 4057, and to provide more than $7000
per month would be superfluous, based on M and Z’s current lifestyle.
The trial court did not state that F is an extraordinarily high wage earner,
but determined that he should pay: “$8,500 per month plus the payment
of the child’s medical insurance, 90% of the child’s uncovered
medical costs, 75% of the child’s extra-curricular activities, and
100% of the child’s private school tuition at a [school] comparable
to those that [F’s] other children attend.”
M appealed stating that the court did not use proper guidelines to determine
The Appellate Court agreed with M and sent the case back to the trial court
to state on the record why it believed the guideline amount exceeded the
child’s needs and why the deviation is in the child’s best
interests. Further, the trial court was ordered to base Z’s support
on how F’s other children lived, not on how Z and M currently lived.