Friday, April 24, 2015

"Cameronomics" - Child Support - Custody Issues in California v. Brown

On day 19 of the third trial of Cameron Brown, a couple of witnesses testified to the state of Brown's finances (which I merrily dub "Cameronomics") that indicated he was broke. Brown was never particularly good with money before or after the child support award was part of his financial obligations. I have a lot of experience with the way child support is calculated, and I appreciate how a father who has very little time with his child (by choice or court order) could resent having to pay almost half his net income to a woman he never married, nor likes very much.

The best solution is to obtain joint custody (or "shared parenting") where both parents share similar blocks of time with the child(ren) and they commute back and forth between houses. This would, of course, require the parents to have a mature relationship, live in the same school district (or within a manageable distance), and decide who pays health insurance, who gets the tax exemption, etc.

In the case of Brown and Key, the child support was calculated based on the usual factors: income of each parent, time spent with the child, and arrears when the child support award was finalized. Brown owed back child support, a percentage of which was added to his monthly payment. Brown's child support was a substantial amount, and I agree it was debilitating. But, we don't make the rules. It wasn't Sarah's decision, and it's not based on how much of that money is spent on the child.

Mr. Laub's cross examination of the financial expert witnesses attempted to demonstrate that Sarah was getting too much money, that she couldn't have needed it, that she didn't account for what she spent on Lauren, and other accusations that she was immoral somehow in taking this money.

This is a completely irrelevant issue. Whether or not Sarah spent the child support she received from Brown exclusively on Lauren's needs (and demonstrated this with a spreadsheet every week) or on mink furs is moot. The function of child support is to provide the child with a lifestyle he/she would have enjoyed had the parents stayed together. Unless Brown could show that Lauren was neglected, malnourished, poorly dressed, or smelled like a meth lab, he had no choice but to pay what the court ordered. That's just the way it works. I'm not saying it's fair, but that's the law.

As a single mother who has received a wide range of child support (from Zero to $600/month, depending on the income or deadbeat level of the father), I can enumerate many issues that a non-custodial parent doesn't face. A non-custodial parent with no other children (or step-children) buys a lot of freedom with that child support. He/she generally has visitation for 4 to 10 days a month. That leaves over 20 days of freedom from the demands of full-time parenting. The non-custodial parent misses less work because of a sick child, avoids babysitting costs, medical issues, transportation to extracurricular activities, hosting the child's friends, grocery shopping, clothes shopping, nightmares at the shoe store, the list goes on and on.

Brown wanted more time with Lauren, yet he failed to present at any time (from all accounts) a shared parenting agreement where he spelled out how he was going to accommodate her lifestyle. It was unrealistic to keep Lauren 50% of the time from the distance he and Patty lived from Sarah. It was even less likely (testified to in the link above) that the court would grant the Browns full custody unless Sarah had "turned into a monster."

I presented that rationale to Ted Kaldis many years ago, and he insisted that I was wrong, because his brother-in-law and sister had more resources, hence would get custody. This recent testimony vindicates me (not that I needed it), and shows that Patty Brown was woefully ignorant about how custody matters were decided. Her lame (and utterly unoriginal) attempt to accuse Sarah of child abuse was only the first of many failures to create a case.

Yes, Brown wanted a reduction in child support. He tried to obtain this in many ways: working less, declaring less income, and asking for more custody, with little success. However, it was never shown that he wanted full custody. I believe that was Patty's idea, and I would not be surprised if she was drilling this fantasy into Brown's feeble mind for months. Maybe....just maybe....Brown killed two birds with one stone when he went to Inspiration Point that day: eliminate the child support obligation and his obsessed wife's warped notion that they take that child from her mother and raise her as their own.

It's an ugly thought, but I can't help entertaining it.


Anonymous said...

Yah, you sound like you know what you are talking about. I hope people aren't listening to your load of crap.

CountryGirl said...

The jury listened. Troll.

Compuelf said...

The jury, which was allowed to see evidence and hear testimony we did not, found Cameron guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Yes, innocent people do get convicted (The Innocence Project proves this out), but I've not seen anything that would reasonably support the idea that Cameron is innocent of the crime of murder.

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