The Lifestyle to Become Accustomed to

Lori McGinley was a high school dropout when she became involved with real estate agent Stan Herman and gave birth to their son. She called their involvement a "relationship" with the intent of having a child together. He considered the involvement "sporadic", and there was never a planned "love child." Semantics aside, a child was born and with that birth came the legal obligation of both parents to provide for his financial support. In California, the amount of child support is usually determined via a computer program. By inputting data including the monthly income and expenses of each parent, information regarding each child, amount of time each parent spends with the child(ren), etc., the program provides a suggested amount to be paid by the parent owing the support.

Through her CPA, McGinley claimed she had a disposable income of $400 a month and expenses of $7,627 per month for her 600-square-foot apartment by a busy highway, her son's swim lessons, and his babysitting costs. Herman's CPA claimed Herman had a cash flow of MINUS $42,532 per month and expenses of $31,457 per month. He failed to mention that Herman was worth over $11 million dollars, so McGinley's CPA mentioned it. The CPA also mentioned that, based on Herman's own business records, Herman's living expenses were $80,390 per month and he had $116,256 in cash available for support. In fact, Herman had so much money he recently purchased a new car - a Bentley! Therefore, support should be based on Herman's "extraordinarily high income", and that the child should share in that lifestyle.

The trial court refused the information provided by both CPAs, and stated that a support figure of about $2,000 per month "…came to mind, because we have a lot of cases like this. And that's usually been the real limits that I've seen…" The court awarded McGinley $2,150 in monthly child support and $750 per month in a college trust account.

McGinley appealed the court's ruling contending the court abused its discretion in setting an amount of child support that was inadequate. By re-affirming a previous decision, the appellate court agreed with her stating, "…where the supporting parent enjoys a lifestyle that far exceeds that of the custodial parent, child support must to some degree reflect the more opulent lifestyle even though this may, as a practical matter, produce a benefit for the custodial parent…" In other words, Herman's son was entitled to Herman's lifestyle, even if it meant McGinley would enjoy Herman's lifestyle too.

**Side note, according to the Los Angeles Times, Stan Herman died in