The Null Device

The Three-Pony Rule

Legal doctrine of the day: the Three-Pony Rule, used in determining when child support claims are excessive:
While acknowledging there are unique problems with determining the reasonable needs of children of high-earning families, the court said trial judges should nevertheless avoid overindulgence -- citing the doctrine of In re Patterson, 920 P.2d 450 (Kan. App. 1996), that "no child, no matter how wealthy the parents, needs to be provided [with] more than three ponies."
But the appeals court said Convery failed to make a detailed examination of Jean Strahan's child support request and instead merely accepted her recitation of the children's needs. Those "needs," wrote Appellate Division Judge Lorraine Parker, included the children giving their nanny a 10-day vacation in Jamaica; diamond jewelry for their grandmother; $30,000 yearly for landscaping expenses; $36,000 a year for "equipment and furnishings"; and $3,000 yearly for audio visual equipment. Jean set their clothing needs at $27,000 a year, since the children needed new outfits every time they saw their father and one of them demanded a new purse every time she left the house.
"[T]he court made no distinction between what needs were reasonable, given the age of the children, and what simply amounted to a 'fourth pony,'" wrote Parker, who was joined by Judges Rudy Coleman and Thomas Lyons.

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