Child support trial set in Palin, Johnston case

Bristol Palin
Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, arrives at an event to promote National Teen Pregnancy Awareness Day in New York, on  May 6, 2009. Mary Altaffer / ASSOCIATED PRESS
/ Source: The Associated Press

A judge on Thursday set a date for the child support trial of Bristol Palin and the father of her son but urged the two to work out a resolution before then.

Judge Kari C. Kristiansen encouraged Palin and Levi Johnston, both 19, to work with a judge who specializes in such matters in a settlement conference and not go to trial. She set a court date for Sept. 23-24.

Palin, a daughter of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, attended the 20-minute child support hearing in Palmer Superior Court, but her former fiance did not appear or participate by phone.

Kristiansen told Rex Butler, Johnston's lawyer, that it would have been better if his client had participated.

Bristol Palin is seeking nearly $1,700 a month in child support to care for their son, Tripp. Her pregnancy was announced just days after her mother, then governor of Alaska, was tapped by GOP presidential candidate John McCain to be his running mate.

Palin and Johnston, a current Playgirl cover model, broke up shortly after Tripp's birth in December 2008.

Palin's lawyer has complained that Johnston hasn't been forthcoming with his income. Attorney Thomas Van Flein has asked a judge to issue subpoenas to obtain payments made to Johnston by Playgirl and media companies such as CNN, Entertainment Tonight, Vanity Fair, the National Enquirer, Star magazine and Insider.

Johnston has said he wasn't paid for many of the media interviews.

A judge hasn't ruled on the request.

The court is determining the amount of child support based on Johnston's adjusted gross income, which is estimated between $100,000 and $105,000. Johnston has said his income from the entertainment field can be erratic.

Palin wants $1,688 a month in child support. She also is asking for retroactive payments to the boy's birth, or $19,232 total. That does not include $4,400 Johnston has already paid in child support.

The judge on Thursday encouraged Butler to get his client's financial information to the court, saying it was past due.

Van Flein said he had "every confidence" that the child support issue would be resolved in the next two weeks.