Family Law Corner: Charlie Sheen Needs “Two and a Half Men” to Pay His Child Support

Charlie Sheen’s exes are claiming he knew exactly what he was doing when he sold his rights to his hit show “Two and a Half Men.”

Sheen recently sold his profit participation rights to “Two and a Half Men” for over $26 million dollars and in the process he cut his income from $613,000 per month to about $87,000 per month. Sheen then went straight to court and asked that his child support be reduced, serving both Denise Richards and Brooke Mueller within two weeks of each other.

He has two children with each ex, and Richards and Mueller had been receiving approximately $55,000 per month each in child support.

Mueller responded by claiming that Sheen was $88,000 in arrears on his payments to her—apparently Sheen unilaterally lowered his support to $10,000 pending the hearing on the matter. She succeeded in obtaining a temporary order to freeze some of Sheen’s accounts to secure her back support. She also claimed that he purposely sold the rights to “Two and a Half Men” in order to get rid of his best source of consistent income. Pending a long-cause hearing on the matter, the court reduced his child support to $10,000 to each mother.

Mueller likely utilized a writ of execution to seize Sheen’s assets, likely since he no longer had consistent income to garnish. The California Family Code (and Code of Civil Procedure) provides a number of methods to enforce support judgments. The enforcement of a child support order against the non-wage property of a payor is afforded ex parte relief (that is, without notice or prior court approval) pursuant to Family Code §5100.

In the Sheen/Mueller scenario, if Sheen is no longer receiving reliable income, she had no choice but to levy his assets to secure her child support. Family Code §§4600-§4641 provide an alternative (and more complicated) way to enforce child support arrearages by way of an asset deposit and sale order, and are intended to be extraordinary remedies for cases of bad faith failure to pay child support obligations.

The court may find that Sheen’s financial woes (he’s claiming extra-ordinary health expenses related to his recently disclosed HIV positive diagnosis and debts exceeding $12 million) warrant a reduction in his child support. However, the gossip media is reporting that Mueller and Richards are marshaling their forces to show that the children have special needs that far exceed $10,000 per month. Under Family Code §4062, the court can order additional support (“add-ons”) for the special needs of the children.

It seems that no one will get a happy sitcom ending in the Sheen/Mueller/Richards litigation. The court is faced with a difficult decision and quite likely none of the parties will be happy with the outcome.