"The obligation to pay child support is absolute. ... It is not to be taken willy-nilly," state Supreme Court Justice Robert A. Ross scolded Lohan in a brief proceeding inside a small, standing-room-only Long Island courtroom. "Enough is enough."
The court appearance by Lohan and his estranged wife, Dina, who have been separated since 2005, attracted a brigade of photographers, reporters and camera crews eager for any snippet of Lohan news following the arrest earlier this week of their daughter Lindsay.
"She's in a safe place and she's doing well," Dina Lohan said of Lindsay outside the courthouse; she did not speak in the courtroom.
The 21-year-old actress was arrested Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., and released on bail for investigation of misdemeanor driving under the influence and with a suspended license and felony cocaine possession. She has insisted in an e-mail to an entertainment reporter that she is innocent of the latest allegations, which come just two weeks after she was released from her second stint in rehab this year.
Her plight wasn't mentioned in the courtroom Friday.
Ross' primary concern was for the welfare of Aliana, 13, and brother, Dakota, 10. Another brother, Michael, is 19 and doesn't require child support.
Since his release from state prison in March after serving more than 20 months for attempted assault and other charges, Lohan said he has lived and worked at a rehabilitation center called Teen Challenge, but receives no salary that could be used to pay child support to his two youngest children.
He also said he is putting together a rehab center that he intends to run with others beginning in September, and said he should begin receiving income from that enterprise at that time. He wasn't specific.
"For five months, you did not need one cent?" Ross asked about the time spent since Lohan's release from prison. "This is not just about his needs, but the children's needs are not being met."
When Ross asked Lohan what income he had earned as an investment banker before going to prison, he was unable to give a specific answer.
An exasperated judge then imposed a $500-a-week child support order and instructed Lohan to provide proof that he is seeking employment by the next court date on Aug. 10.
Outside the courthouse, Lohan said he has other priorities besides making money.
"I am not on Lindsay's payroll and everyone that cared about Lindsay was extricated, fired, or quit. I was extricated myself, because I care," he said. "I want nothing. This is not a money issue with me, this is a child issue with me. It's about putting my family back together and helping Lindsay and anyone else that I can through the message that I'm trying to share with anyone else."
When asked whether he would seek employment, as the judge ordered, he countered: "I work for Teen Challenge. I work for God."
Besides the proceeding in divorce court, the Lohans are expected in Family Court on Monday to discuss custody and visitation issues involving their younger children.