Family Law Corner: Harvey Weinstein Does Not Have to Pre-Pay Child Support... For Now

It is impossible to avoid news of the downfall of Harvey Weinstein. His ex-wife, Eve Chilton, cited current events when she recently requested pre-payment of Weinstein’s child support obligation.

Page Six reported that court pleadings show that Chilton sought to have Weinstein pre-pay his remaining $5 million child support obligation. In the parties’ judgment, Page Six claims that Weinstein agreed to pay for child support $50,000 per year for vacations, $100,000 per year for camps, $500,000 toward college, in addition to monthly payments for the parties’ 15-year-old and 19-year-old daughters. Chilton claims the total amount due is $60 million, of which $5 million is still outstanding, and that Weinstein had recently told her that he could not pay his child support obligation for a year because of all the lawsuits he is facing. 

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Katz denied her request, citing Weinstein’s history of full and on-time payments. Had this matter been heard in California, the result would have been the same. While Family Code §4550 et seq. empowers a court to order a parent to make certain advance payments into an interest-bearing account as security to protect against the obligor’s default, the right to have this advance payment in trust is very limited. For example, In re Marriage of Chandler (1997) 60 Cal.App.4th 124, the Court determined that unless there is an extraordinary factual finding, setting aside money in trust for the college payments or other payments where the obligee parent has unfettered access to the funds will not be allowed. In contrast, a trust to hold funds for travel so each parent can have custodial time has been allowed. Wilson v. Shea (2001) 87 CA4th 887. Chilton’s claim that Weinstein said he would not be able to pay is not enough evidence to require a “pre-payment.”

In California, Chilton might have had more success if she set her sights on a smaller amount. Under Family Code §4560, up to a year’s worth of child support payment could be held in trust, but that amount would be far less than the $5 million she requested. If Weinstein’s legal woes cause him to miss a payment, then Chilton could get another bite at the apple by going after Weinstein for interest on the arrears and other remedies.  The good news for Chilton is that child support arrears are not dischargeable in bankruptcy!