A recent court ruling reviewing the divorce settlement of billionaire investor Charles Brandes and his ex-wife Linda includes a hefty monthly spousal support payment. The ruling, issued by San Diego Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bostwick, comes after a dispute arose over the division of property in the couple's 2005 divorce settlement. The original settlement agreement gave Mrs. Brandes five residences, including a penthouse and two condominiums in New York City and a house on the beach in Del Mar. She also received, in addition to other property, $18.7 million dollars from their savings and investments. The investments she received in the divorce reportedly generated around $154,881 per month, the sufficiency of which was one of the issues addressed by the court this year.
Charles Brandes is a San Diego money manager and owner of Brandes Investment Partners. He has an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion. Forbes Magazine listed him 331st on its list of the 400 richest Americans for 2011. In 2010 it listed him at #655 among the world's billionaires. Mr. Brandes' monthly income when the he and Mrs. Brandes first met was allegedly around $12,500, and is now reported to be upwards of $16 million. He and Mrs. Brandes married in 1986 and separated in 2004.
The court reviewed the question of whether the original division of property was fair under California law and whether the amount of spousal support was sufficient to meet her needs. Mrs. Brandes requested spousal support of $735,000 per month, citing expenses such as a wardrobe budget of $70,000 a year and substantial expenditure on art collecting. She also requested modification of the property division based on a valuation of her share of the marital estate at $453 million to $597 million. The court awarded her an additional $10,052,042 "to equalize the division of community property," as well as spousal support of $485,000 per month, far less than her request but hardly a small amount.
As large as the award to Mrs. Brandes may seem, it might be considerably less than what California law could allow. California follows community property rules, meaning that all property acquired during the marriage, with a few exceptions, belongs to the marital estate. Each spouse is entitled to half of the community estate in a divorce, with adjustments made based on a number of factors. For example, a court may award more than 50% to one spouse of it finds the other spouse to be at fault for the marriage's breakup. Out of an alleged total net worth of over $1 billion, Mrs. Brandes seems to have gotten a rather small percentage.