On October 4, 2021 a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that Charlie Sheen would no longer have to pay Denise Richards child support and that the order of $0 (zero dollars) in support a month would be retroactive to August 1, 2018, which is the day when Sheen first filed his motion for modification of the child support payments, based on a material change in his circumstances.
Back in 2018, Sheen filed a statement saying that he had “been blacklisted from Hollywood” and now only earns an average of $2426.00 per month. Based on that low income and the amount of time that he said his children with Richards resided with him (40% of their time, according to the 2018 statement), Sheen asked for a change in child support payments. He did not ask to pay nothing. In fact, he said that he was willing to pay child support, but he requested that the support payment be based on State of California guidelines, pursuant to California Family Code, §§ 4050 to 4076. Under those guidelines, and the required calculations they entail, his child support payment was determined to be zero.
Without arguing about whether an actor who once made $1.8 million per episode when he was the lead on a top-rated TV show, CBS’ Two and a Half Men, is really now too broke to pay child support, we must start by pointing out that a claim from an anonymous “source” speaking for Denise Richards’ contending that she was “blindsided” by the court’s ruling is patently ridiculous. The source contends that Sheen did not tell Richards the hearing date for the motion for support modification, even though she kept asking.
Please understand that there are no secret hearings and your ex-husband, your opponent in your battle for child support, is not the sole keeper of hearing calendars. If you want to know when a court hearing date is, you don’t ask your ex-husband. You ask your own attorney or you ask the court. Your attorney receives notices from the court and from opposing counsel regarding hearing dates. If the other party files a motion and receives a hearing date, but doesn’t tell you when it is, they are violating state notice statutes and also committing perjury, because their attorney has to file a “proof of service” with the Court, declaring under oath that you were served with notice of the hearing date. Therefore, if Charlie Sheen’s attorney actually failed to serve Denise Richards with notice of the hearing, after filing a proof of service saying that he did, his office is in big trouble.
Secondly, hearing dates are public matters. Anyone can go to the Los Angeles Superior court website for the Denise Richards v. Charlie Sheen case and see upcoming hearing dates. No one has to tell you when a hearing will be held. Look on the internet to find out or pick up the phone and call the court clerk.
Thirdly, Sheen filed this motion 3 years ago. It can hardly have “blindsided” Richards, after she’s known about it for three years. Richards says that Sheen kept continuing (postponing) the motion. The court’s website does indicate that Sheen, the Respondent, did seek continuances, but Richards had every right and opportunity to oppose the motions for continuance and did not do so. In fact, in June 2019, Richards filed a notice expressly letting the court know she did not intend to oppose one of the motions for continuance.
The fact is, the modification in payments probably has little to do with Sheen taking Richards by surprise. Richards filed papers with the court saying her average monthly income was $25,361. This is more than 10 times more than Sheen says that he makes. Of course, Richards’ papers indicate that she believes Sheen makes a lot more money than he claimed. She estimated that he really made $95,365 per month and said that their children, daughters Sam and Lola, spent 100% of their time with her (as of August 2019, but that custody split has changed since then). Obviously, Richards was not able to provide supporting documentation to prove Sheen’s higher income or to show that the children reside almost exclusively with her. She didn’t even file opposition to his request for modification, hence the court’s October 4, 2021 ruling.
Keep in mind that Sheen did not make himself out to be a pauper exactly. He reported property, two homes, cash and assets totaling almost $2 million. But he also claimed $83,667 in expenses, which included $45,000 in child support for children other than Sam and Lola.
Sheen said he had been an actor for 44 years, but was then (in August 2018) being blacklisted by Hollywood. We all remember what happened 10 years ago, when Sheen began ranting about “tiger blood” and “winning.” He seemed to be having personal difficulties. He has worked since then, but he has never enjoyed the success he had when Two and a Half Men peaked. He suffered a very public downward spiral and, funnily enough, he was not placed in a conservatorship!
In fact, I was thinking of Britney Spears, Natalie Cole and Amanda Bynes and wondering why female celebrities are placed under conservatorship so much more often than men, no matter how obvious it is that the men are out of control. And I’m not suggesting that the courts alone are responsible for the conservatorship gender imbalance. It seems to me that relatives of men are less likely to move for conservatorship than the relatives of women are. Therefore, the courts are asked to restrict the freedom of women much more often than they are asked to do the same to men, no matter how much the men seem to be crying out to be restrained.
At any rate, we can easily accept that Sheen’s earnings actually did flatline, following what happened. I’m not sure that he was actually “blacklisted.” After all, he worked on Anger Management for two years and has had other guest appearances. Still, we can see that his active acting earnings dwindled. The only question is whether he has savings, dividends, and other sources of income to sustain him and his children. Richards argued that he does. Sheen’s court papers indicate that he isn’t even able to pay his exterminator bill of $450. He was also in hock to the gardener and pool service company, because he’s so broke and, of course, he couldn’t catch up on past due school tuition for his kids, in the amount of $29,000 (in August 2018).
There were reports that Richards wanted to get as much in child support as Brooke Mueller receives from Sheen for the two sons Sheen had with Mueller. However, that’s not how it works. The court is not only required to look at Sheen’s income to assess child support. It has to consider the other parent’s income as well. If Richards makes more than Brooke Mueller, then she would not receive the same amount in child support that Mueller does.
California guidelines for child support depend on:
- each parent’s gross income
- the percentage of time each child spends with each parent
- any available income tax deductions that the parents can claim, such as mortgage interest
- mandatory payroll deductions, such as health insurance, pensions, and union dues, and
- child care costs incurred by either parent
The calculation formula is CS = K (HN – (H%) (TN). Translated that means Child Support = combined income of both parents (high net or the net income for the parent with the highest earnings minus the percentage of time that the highest earning parent has custody of the children) (TN). TN is the total net income of both parents.
In this case, Denise has been working a lot more consistently than Charlie has for years. Right now, she not only has a tv series, Glow and Darkness, but also has a movie filming, Wickensburg, among other projects. It is not hard to believe she is currently the highest earning parent, not Sheen. Additionally, when she is working, the children stay with Sheen more and their oldest daughter, Sam, much like Claudia Conway, has caused a sensation on social media by publicly complaining about her mother, now that she has moved in with her father.
Sam posted on Tik Tok that she feels liberated now. She celebrated her change in residence, claiming that a year ago she was living “in an abusive household, hated myself, would go days without eating or sleeping, insanely depressed, hated school, etc.” After those incendiary posts, Sam’s Tik Tok feed has now been made private.
If it’s true that Richards today makes more money than Sheen and Sheen has custody of the children 50% – 100% of the time, the modification of child support only seems logical, not a coup on his part. It’s easy to suggest the court’s order is unfair, favoring the man, biased towards the more famous one of the two parents. But based on the court filings (and lack thereof, given Richards’ failure to oppose Sheen’s motion), it seems that the court’s ruling was a balancing of equity, not a balancing of fame.