Is Levi Johnston a Deadbeat Dad?

Filed under: Opinions

Levi Johnston arrives at a party in Los Angeles in November 2009. Credit: Robyn Beck, AFP / Getty Images

Bristol Palin's attorney has filed a Motion for Interim Child Support. Is this a case of Levi Johnston: Deadbeat Dad?

Let's look at the facts.

According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Alaska law states "the non-custodial parent is obligated to provide child support equal to 20 percent of the non-custodial parent's adjusted annual income (up to an annual income of $105,000)."

The documents filed by Palin's attorney allege that Johnston "has earned in excess of $105,000 in 2009 through various media interviews and modeling related activities."
And where did this data come from? "Information and belief." (We're guessing that's a legal term for "guesstimate based on perusing various tabloids and gossip Web sites."

So what, exactly, are the numbers? Twenty percent of $105,000 is $21,000. And $21,000 divided by 12 is $1,750. Palin is asking for $1,750 per month in child support, retroactive to their son Tripp's birth 13 months ago. That makes $22,750.

The court filing states that Johnston has paid $4,400 in child support so far. Subtract that number and you get $18,350, which is the amount Bristol and her attorneys are requesting. For the record, Johnston's manager, Tank Jones, (the Palins can cross that "T" name off their list if anyone has another child) tells TMZ that "Levi has paid Bristol more than $10,000 since Tripp was born" in December of 2008. Jones did not say exactly how much Johnston earned in 2009.

Meredith Rosenthal, an attorney with the Boston law firm Friedman & Atherton LLP, tells ParentDish in an e-mail that "Alaska case law firmly supports ordering that payment of child support be retroactive to the date of the child's birth."

The Web site says some of the the possible justifications for retroactive child support are when the non-custodial parent (Johnston) is concealing part of his or her income, and also "where there's a demonstrated need."

The first reason, concealing of income, is certainly possible. However, it also should be possible for the court to order Johnston to provide evidence of his earnings.

In a letter dated Jan. 4, Palin's attorney, Thomas V. Van Flein, asked that Johnston submit his financial information as requested. Reading the letter, which is part of the court documents obtained by TMZ, it sounds like one of the issues in play is whether or not Palin's financial information will be made public. Johnston's attorneys asked that the Tripp Palin custody trial be open to the public, and Alaska Superior Court Judge Kari Kristiansen agreed. The letter from Palin's attorney asks that Johnston agree to keep his and Palin's financial information confidential.

Why is this an issue? Well, if Palin is being supported by her family, does that mean that Sarah Palin's finances would become public, as well? If so, that would make it very difficult to show a "demonstrated need" to receive additional money from Johnston. (Note that this is speculation, based on a reading of the court documents.)

What is unfortunate is that this young couple has to go through all of this in public. Even if the court proceedings were kept private, members of the Palin family are big-time celebrities now, as is Johnston. There is enormous media interest in everything they do (despite the fact that Sarah Palin does not sell magazines). The moment Bristol Palin and Johnston appeared at the Republican National Convention in September of 2008, their lives became tabloid fodder.

It must have been very difficult for these two people to become parents at such a young age. Now they get to share that experience with the entire world.

Related: Tyra Grills Levi Johnston About S-E-X

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.