The child support guidelines in Massachusetts are meant to apply to the first $250,000 of combined income of the parents. So then, what do those who earn more than $250,000 per year pay in child support? Under the new 2013 child support guidelines, the court can consider the income each party has available over the combined $250,000, but the guidelines do not dictate exactly how that income is to be utilized. What about parents with incomes far in excess of $250,000 per year? The Arizona Court of Appeals recently issued a ruling that the children of Steve Nash, point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, are entitled to receive support at an above-guidelines amount, saying that a support order for the children of affluent parents should not be limited to the children's basic needs. Massachusetts has it's fair share of NBA stars (not to mention NHL and NFL players). Exactly how much child support is enough?
A child support award is meant to meet the reasonable needs of the children, though Massachusetts courts have held that an award in cases where a parent enjoys wealth may be fashioned so as to maintain a standard of living that the child would have enjoyed had the family remained intact. While a child may be entitled to participate in a parent’s high standard of living, it is not without limit. Courts in Massachusetts talk about the "three pony rule," which is that at some point the support becomes excessive because no child needs three ponies. As with Steve Nash, a wealthy parent in Massachusetts will have to pay child support above the guidelines, however, the court will look to the standard of living in each household while being mindful not to provide a windfall to the child and custodial parent.