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Child Support And Custody Issues Meet In Celebrity Dispute

Christie Brinkley’s child support case is getting attention because of its star power and the amount of money involved. The case, however, is also about managing former spouses’ parenting duties and deciding whether their child custody arrangement is working out as planned.

Claims for Unpaid Child Support

Brinkley, the current stage actress and former model who appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition, asked a New York court to award her $32,000 in educational costs for their children and $140,000 in fines according to an ABC News report. She claimed her ex-husband, Peter Cook, violated their 2008 divorce settlement agreement and owes her unpaid child support.

Cook responded, alleging that Brinkley is using her celebrity status to garner publicity and portray him as a deadbeat dad. He requested that the court order Brinkley to reimburse him $25,000 in child support for the five months he took care of their two kids while Brinkley performed in New York and London.

According to ABC News, Cook claimed in his court filing that he cares for his 13- and 16-year-old children full time. Brinkley’s divorce attorney countered, stating that Brinkley has sole physical custody of the children.

New York Child Support Law

In New York, child support is financial support provided by the parent who does not have primary physical custody of the child. Child support includes:

  • Payments for reasonable health care costs not covered by health insurance
  • Payments for child care
  • Health insurance or medical support
  • Monthly payments based on a statutory formula

New York courts calculate child support payments using statutory guidelines, under which the court multiplies the parents’ combined adjusted gross income by the following percentages:

  • 17 percent for one child
  • 25 percent for two children
  • 29 percent for three children
  • 31 percent for four children
  • At least 35 percent for five or more children

Courts then prorate the resulting number based upon the parents’ proportionate share. When total income exceeds $136,000, the court has discretion in such cases to consider additional factors in deciding support payment obligations to the combined income in excess of $136,000.

Parents going through divorce and those who believe their former spouse owes child support arrears should contact an experienced divorce attorney to advocate for them and to obtain appropriate financial support to meet their child’s best interests.