As we reported a few weeks ago, Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, is seeking child support from her ex-boyfriend Levi Johnston, father of one-year-old Tripp.
Bristol requested somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,700 a month in temporary and retroactive support, based on her belief that Johnston made in excess of $105,000 last year.
Johnston has argued that he didn’t make as much in 2009 as Bristol believes – and that his 2009 income (whatever it was) was an anomaly. He claims that, prior to 2009, he’d never made more than $10,000 a year. Bristol’s attorneys released a paycheck stub from 2008 that shows Johnston was paid $18,594 from one employer in 2008.
Now, Bristol and her attorneys have subpoenaed many of the companies that may have compensated Johnston over the past year to determine what exactly he did make in 2009. Johnston posed for Playgirl and was also reportedly paid by multiple magazines and media outlets for interviews. Although parties in a family law case are required to voluntarily disclose their income, it is also not unusual for one party to subpoena compensation records especially when their is a dispute as to the amount or value of certain compensation.
The Palin legal team has subpoenaed records from Vanity Fair, ‘Entertainment Tonight,’ the National Enquirer and CNN. The subpoenas seek “copies of any checks, IRS forms and all in-kind services, such as airfare, hotels, meals, transportation and per diem.” Depending on the nature of the in-kind compensation, the value of those services could also be counted toward income for purposes of calculating child support.
In a more common example, a parent who is paid a salary and receives a paid-for company car as well might have the monthly value of that benefit added to his or her income for child support calculations – because it is similar to a situation in which the parent receives cash for a car payment, gas and repairs each month. Although the cash is not received, that parent is also not paying anything for the use of a car when he or she would otherwise bear those expenses, so they are ultimately in a better cash position.
Under Alaska family law, a non-custodial parent must pay 20% of income up to $105,000 a year for the support of a single child. Johnston’s 2009 child support obligation will be determined based upon how much he made that year. Going forward, the court will likely have to impute income to Johnston, speculating on his earning power based upon several factors including his income history.