TV Star Jon Cryer Must Pay Child Support for Son in His Custody

(Robert Franklin, Esq.)   Two and a Half Men star Jon Cryer must pay child support for his son of whom he has custody. Here’s the opinion of the California appellate court.

Yes, it’s true.  Jon Cryer has almost sole custody of his son with Sarah Trigger Cryer.  She has 4% of the parenting time; he has the other 96%.  So you’d think she’d be paying child support to him, but no.  It’s the other way around.  He’s paying her because a Los Angeles trial court ordered him to and the appellate court upheld the order.

As you read the appellate opinion, continually ask yourself that tried and true question “what would happen if the sexes were reversed?”

Jon and Sarah were married in 2000.  Both were actors at the time.  They had a son, but divorced in 2004 with Sarah getting primary custody and Jon paying child support.  By 2009, Sarah’s life had gone from bad to worse.  Apparently she hasn’t had an acting job since 2005.  Indeed, if she’s had any job at all, it’s not reflected in the evidence before the court.  For that matter, she seems entirely disinclined to look for work, for reasons which will become obvious.

Both Jon and Sarah remarried, but it took only a few years for Sarah’s second marriage to hit the skids.  She had a son by that marriage too and maintained custody of both boys.

Soon though, Jon filed for a modification of custody saying that Sarah was an unfit parent who left the children unsupervised.  His request was denied, but the court admonished Sarah for negligent parenting.  In 2009, her child by her second husband was injured while under her care and both children were taken from her and given to their dads.

So Jon did the obvious thing; he asked the court to reduce his child support from $10,000 a month to nothing.  After all, he was the custodial parent and custodial parents don’t pay child support, they receive it, right?  Well, as the court admitted, that’s usually the case, but not here.  Here, Jon must continue paying Sarah $8,000 a month even though she only sees the child 4% of the time.

Why?  Because she’s a deadbeat, that’s why.  I’m really not making this up.  Sarah answered Jon’s request for a reduction of child support by saying it’s her only income, which apparently it is.  That’s because she hasn’t had a job of any kind since 2005.  Into the bargain, she’s not looking for one.  In her last filing, she listed her monthly income (outside of child support) as zero and her monthly expenses as over $13,000.

So, according to both the trial and the appellate courts, because Sarah is too much of a deadbeat to even attempt to support herself, Jon must continue to support her with the child providing the weakest of pretexts for doing so.

How many times have fathers been told that they should stop griping about the countless injustices of the child support system because it’s all for the child?  Yes it’s unfair they’re told, but just put a sock in it and pay; it’s for the child, don’t you see.

Well, this case gives the lie to that and doesn’t beat around the bush about it.  No one believes that it takes $8,000 a month ($96,000 a year) to support a child 4% of the time.  The money has nothing to do with child support; it has everything to do with deadbeat Mom support.  In this case, the bottom line is, well, the bottom line, and it is this – Jon earns a lot of money, Sarah earns none; therefore Jon pays Sarah even though he’s the custodial parent.  Simple.

Now no opinion in a custody case would be complete without genuflections to the best interests of the child, and this is no exception.  Sarah told the court that, if Jon didn’t pay her ”child support,” she’d lose the house she lives in and that he helped her buy when they got divorced.  Assuming that to be the case, that would mean that she’d have to live somewhere else.

According to both courts, that would be too traumatic for their son.  Keep in mind that 4% of a month is a little over a day.  So according to the court, asking the child to spend a day and a night with his mother in an apartment somewhere in Los Angeles would be so emotionally damaging to him that it warrants imposing child support on a custodial parent.

Of course it would be nothing of the sort.  Millions of children in this country live their whole lives in worse conditions and muddle through perfectly well.

Into the bargain, cutting Sarah off Daddy welfare might actually encourage her to better herself.  The judges didn’t manage to notice what everyone over the age of about 12 would – that the reason Sarah has no income and is making no effort to work and earn is that she’s living off of Jon.  Take his income away from her and maybe she’d start lifting a finger.  Hey, anything’s possible.

But the courts weren’t finished.  Perhaps sensing the radical injustice of what they were doing, both tried another tack.  Because Sarah’s children were taken from her by the Department of Children and Family Services due to her neglect, there was a dependency proceeding in juvenile court at the same time the child support issue was being litigated.

No one knew what the outcome of the dependency proceeding might have been; they only knew that Jon had custody and Sarah didn’t.  That could have changed at any time.  The juvenile court could have done anything from returning full custody to Sarah to terminating her parental rights altogether.

So according to the courts, nothing could be done about Jon’s child support obligation because, well, the juvenile court might alter the custody arrangement at any time.  Let me remind you; I’m not making this up.

We all know that, if the juvenile court had altered the custody situation significantly, either Jon or Sarah could have gone to court and requested a modification of child support based on changed circumstances.  And guess what.  The courts know that too; they even said as much.  But according to them, because circumstances might change in the future, their hands are tied; Jon has to keep paying to support his ex-wife because, well something might happen.

It’s hard to get more blatant than this.  It’s Mommy support thinly disguised as child support.  The child will never see one-tenth of this money.  In fact, she’s using it to pay her lawyers in the dependency case.

And again, imagine if the sexes were reversed.  Imagine a father saying “Judge, it’s true I can earn a living but haven’t lifted a finger to do so for six years, and it’s true I lost custody because I’m dangerous to the children in my care, but my ex-wife needs to pay me a large sum of money every month for a child I rarely see and we need to pretend it’s child support.”

Would the judge laugh him out of court or toss him in jail?  I can’t decide.

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