May 2012 Archives

May 24, 2012

Supermodel, Billionaire Settle Child Support Dispute

Supermodel Linda Evangelista has settled a child support dispute with billionaire businessman Francois-Henri Pinault, her ex-boyfriend, relating to their five year-old son. The case revealed extravagant expenses and costly security measures for a child of two extremely wealthy individuals. It also displayed many features common to child support disputes at any income level, such as an exploration of the non-custodial parent's involvement in the child's life and the nature and necessity of claimed child care expenses.

Evangelista has worked at the highest levels of fashion modeling for over twenty years and has amassed a fortune doing so. She is credited with the iconic quote, "We don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day." She gave birth to a son, Augustin James, on October 11, 2006, and at the time did not disclose the identity of the father. In July 2011, she stated that French businessman Pinault was the child's father. Pinault is the owner of a Paris-based company that owns Gucci and other high-end brands. He is married to actress Salma Hayek, although the two were not married at the time the child was conceived. Pinault and Evangelista briefly dated in 2006. Pinault has three other children, two from a previous marriage that ended in divorce and one, now four years old, with Hayek.

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May 17, 2012

Father of 30 Seeks Help With Child Support Bill

Knoxville_bridges.jpgA 33 year-old Tennessee man, Desmond Hatchett, has requested a break on child support from a family court in Knoxville, citing difficulties making ends meet. Hatchett has allegedly fathered thirty children by eleven women, possibly a record from Knox County. His case illustrates the sometimes bizarre balance family courts must strike between children's need for support and parents' need to support themselves.

Hatchett's thirty children range from toddler-age to fourteen years old. He reportedly told a television reporter that he was finished having children in 2009, when he only had twenty-one children. Hatchett must pay fifty percent of his income towards child support, but that amount is divided among eleven families. Hatchett currently works a minimum wage job. According to the Los Angeles Times, one of the mothers only gets $1.49 per month from Hatchett.

Hatchett is an extreme example of a common phenomenon, a parent without primary custody who must pay child support to the other parent, but who struggles to make the payments. Both of a child's parents owe a duty to support the child, so in cases where the parents live separately, the non-custodial parent may be obligated to pay the other parent periodic child support. California law bases the amount of the child support obligation on a parent's monthly income and the amount of time the child spends with that parent. At a maximum, a parent must pay fifty percent of their monthly income towards child support. The law presumes that children should enjoy the same standard of living as their parents, but also that parents should pay for the support of their children according to their own ability. This system usually works with families of only a few children. When a child support obligor must support a large number of dependents, it becomes more complicated.

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May 10, 2012

Actress Will Not Face Charges for Alleged Domestic Violence

Prosecutors in Los Angeles decided recently not to file charges against actress Lisa Robin Kelly over an alleged incident of domestic violence in April. Kelly was arrested after her roommate, John Michas, accused her of assaulting him. The media alternately describes Michas as her roommate and her boyfriend. Kelly is best known from the television series "That '70s Show" as the main character's older sister, Laurie Forman. Her case spotlights the difficulties in both alleging and defending against allegations of domestic violence.

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Police arrested Kelly shortly after midnight on Saturday, March 31, 2012, after Michas told police that she had assaulted him. The arrest was reportedly based on suspicion of corporal injury to a spouse, a felony offense under California law. Kelly went free on $50,000 bond.

California defines "corporal injury to a spouse" as willfully inflicting "corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition" on a spouse or "cohabitant," a former spouse or cohabitant, or the parent of the accused's child. Cohabitation does not require marriage or the appearance of marriage in order to qualify under the statute. Punishment can include two to four years in state prison or one year in county jail, as well as a fine of up to $6,000.

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May 3, 2012

Electronic Discovery Helps Find Money Hidden by a Spouse During Divorce

T-Mobile Dash wikiSpouses going through a divorce have hidden assets from one another for as long as marriage and divorce have existed. Of course, not every divorcing spouse does this, but it is in the interest of both a divorcing spouse and a divorce attorney to know how to fight against the concealment of assets. Recent technological developments, such as the increasing use of computers and the internet for financial transactions, and widespread use of social media, offer a number of useful tools. Using the discovery process during divorce litigation to collect digital information, commonly known as electronic discovery or "e-discovery," can help a party to a divorce find the others spouse's misconduct or deception.

The Wall Street Journal cites statistics from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) showing that eighty-one percent of the lawyers in that organization reported in 2010 that they had seen a five-year increase in the number of cases that used evidence obtained from social media sites. A year later, ninety-two percent of members reported an increase over a three-year period of evidence obtained from smartphones appearing in divorce cases. Social media and smartphones can provide a wealth of evidence of a spouse's conduct (or misconduct), but they also often play a role in efforts to hide assets.

The intersection of internet and smartphone technology with the age-old practice of hiding assets presents both opportunities and risks for litigants and their attorneys. Hiding or failing to disclose assets in a divorce case could expose a party to contempt or other penalties in some cases, and it could play a role in a judge's final division of the marital estate. A lawyer who helps a client conceal assets could face discipline as well.

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