Jesse Williams has asked courts to reduce his child support payments for his 8-year-old daughter, Sadie, and 6-year-old son, Maceo, he shares with Aryn Drake-Lee, the actor’s ex-wife.
His claim is he can no longer afford to make the hefty monthly payment a judge ordered him to provide for the kids after he divorced in 2019. However, Drake-Lee does not believe him and is fighting back.
Radar Online reports that the mother’s attorney filed paperwork stating she wants him to continue to pay the court-ordered amount that he has for the last three years. Williams reportedly has been paying $40,000 monthly for child support since October 2019.
In December 2021, the former “Grey’s Anatomy” star filed a motion under seal pleading for support obligations to be lessened. He contends the current amount is based on his former job and not his current reality.
In 2019, he raked in $6.2 million and $183k in residuals for playing Dr. Jackson Avery on the hit ABC show. However, since leaving the show his income has dramatically dropped. Currently, he is starring in a play called “Take Me Out” and making only $1,668 per week, he claims.
His claim to the court says, “I am requesting the Court reduce the child support to a reasonable amount I can afford given the significant reduction in my income and the now fluctuating nature of my income.”
“The child support should also be reflective of our two young children’s actual lifestyle and not some exorbitant/imagined version,” it continued.
He explained he left the show because he thought it was going to end and he wanted to grow as an artist.
On the other hand, the filing stated Drake-Lee is not working at all despite holding a credential of a real estate agent in New York. He believes she should return to her job to help support the children.
Her motion stated Williams’ willful departure from the show is his own doing and is an excuse for him not to step up.
“[Jesse] left a favorable, coveted, high-paying position on a successful T.V. show, in pursuit of his ‘own path,’ and now seeks to shed his family responsibilities,” it read.
“In his Request,” her lawyer writes. “[Jesse] mentions [Aryn’s] education and prior earnings as a real estate agent. However, he fails to mention that [Aryn] gave up her thriving career in New York for him more than 13 years ago, to relocate to California to support and focus on building his acting career and businesses.”
“Her ‘income’ during the marriage as his unofficial manager, is comparable to her income now,” the filing stated.
2022 has been busy for this couple.
“Entertainment Tonight” notes their familiar squabbles over the care for the children have landed them in court.
Williams wanted a Los Angeles judge to modify his custodial schedule to see his children now that he has a Broadway show in New York. The judge sided with Williams, ruling he will be allowed to spend four consecutive days each month with his children in NYC. Two of those days, the ruling specified, will be weekends.
The judge further determined the co-parents will continue their joint custody arrangement and in matters like COVID-19 protocol, he will have “tie-breaking authority.”
Drake-Lee had tried to get the judge to reduce the actor’s custodial time, but the request was denied, docs say.
But there are some reasonable concessions the judge made.
The judge suggested the two get a “third-party coordinator or counselor” to assist with some of the details of their custody and visitation of the grammar school-aged children.
Guidelines were instituted stating when Williams “cancels some parenting time, he cannot later ‘uncancel.’” The only consideration to this rule is if both agree in writing.
Williams and Drake-Lee will have to “meet and confer” on the kids’ extracurricular activities and if they cannot agree, the “tie-breaking authority” goes to Drake-Lee, who will make the final decision.
“Mother should appreciate that father cannot share with her certain schedules as far in advance as she would like,” the ruling states. “And that he may not always want his time with the children to be filled up with extracurriculars, and father should appreciate that mother is adapting her own schedule to meet his needs, and the children deserve to have extracurricular activities that they engage in on a regular basis, not just when mom is in charge.”
The judge counseled the two with these words, “The Court reiterates that the co-parenting counseling order is possibly the most important aspect of the orders being made at this time.”
“The parties both seek a great deal of fine-tuning in their custody and visitation orders, much of which a court is not as well equipped to handle as the parents themselves through a third-party coordinator or counselor,” he advised. “Of course, if the parties cannot agree they can come back to court.”
This is not the first time a judge has spoken to them about their need to get along for the sake of the children.
Last year, the two were ordered to attend Between Two Parents, an education course for “high-conflict parents.” A judge sends a couple to this after they have appeared in his court too many times or had too many disagreements over custody.
The online course lasts six sessions and gives divorced parents conflict resolution tactics and tools to alleviate the anxiety that separation brings to their children.
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