It takes more than a village to raise a child. It takes a lot of money. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that it costs somewhere between $250,000 and $300,000 to raise a kid to the age of 18. And these figures don't include a college education. In other words, "You could buy a village with what it takes to raise a child."
And prices are going up. Kiplinger's Personal Finance estimates that in about ten years, a Big Mac will cost about $4.98, a 12-and-under movie ticket will be $7.84, and an hour piano lesson should run you about $49.90. You're probably kicking yourself that — like with the stock market — you didn't get in on this raising children thing when costs were more reasonable.
So, it costs a bundle to raise a bundle of joy. This is one of the many reasons that I've always viewed single parents as heroic. It's hard enough for two people to raise children, but it is an enormous task for one. Our society is finally starting to deal with deadbeat parents who don't provide enough child support.
Because of this, I've been following the case of Lisa Bonder Kerkorian with great interest. The ex-wife of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian asked for $320,000 a month in child support. That's not a misprint — $320,000 a month! So, she asked for approximately the average cost to raise a child for 17 years, except she wants that amount every month.
The child in question is a 4-year-old girl named Kira. With Flintstones vitamins up to around $8.00 per bottle, it's not surprising that Lisa needs some financial help. Some of Kira's expenses that Lisa submitted included $14,000 per month for parties and play dates, $1000 per month for toys, videos, and books, and $436 per month for the care of the child's pet bunny. My daughter used to have a pet bunny. I know the price of carrots has gone up, but $436 a month? And what kind of parties is a four-year old throwing that cost $14,000? Is she having a pretend wedding every month?
Lisa signed away her rights for spousal support and a property settlement, and many observers think this is why she's asking for so much money for Kira. Her demands for the child came after Kerkorian paid her debts of almost $3 million, and gave her an $8 million house and a $1 million relocation fee. I know movers can charge a lot, but did she have a separate Bekins truck for every single item she owned?
Lisa and Kirk Kerkorian were married for a total of one month in 1999. She has admitted that Kerkorian is not Kira's biological father. She confessed that she had faked the DNA test by using saliva from Kerkorian's adult daughter. (I don't even want to think about how she acquired the saliva.) Still, Kerkorian is willing to support Kira. He just thinks the $320,000 a month is a little high.
So did the court. The judge seemed to feel that many of the expenses were either bogus or inflated. He ruled that Lisa Kerkorian should receive "only" $50,316 a month for Kira's support. This includes $2400 per month for equestrian activities and $1400 a month for French and ballet lessons. For that kind of money, they should be able to teach the horse to speak French.
Lisa Bonder Kerkorian's demands are an insult to every hard-working, struggling single parent. Her greed would make a crooked CEO blush. And the scary thing is that as things change over the years, she might petition the court to increase the child support payments. If she could ask for $11,000 a month for food for a four-year old, how much is she going to want once that kid becomes a teenager? Pizzas cost a lot more than cupcakes.
I have to admit that one of the expenses listed for 4-year-old Kira Kerkorian was very touching. Her mother claimed that the kid spends an average of $7,000 a month on charity. It's nice to see that this little girl's mom is teaching her some proper values.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.
By Lloyd Garver
Copyright 2002 CBS. All rights reserved.