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Child Support in Chicago – High-Asset Divorces

Child Support in Chicago – High-Asset Divorces

By M; Scott Gordon

What’s a reasonable amount of child support when a wealthy couple decides to file for divorce in Chicago? According to a recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times, the current divorce proceedings between the Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin and his wife, Anne Dias Griffin, are raising questions about the type and amount of child support that can be expected in a high-asset case.

High-Asset Support in a Recent Chicago Case

Specifically, Dias Griffin has argued that “child support has to maintain the children’s lifestyle as it was during their parents’ marriage.” In this case, Dias Griffin contends that maintaining the children’s lifestyle standards during the marriage would require about $1 million per month, including the following:

  •      Use of a private jet;
  •      $160,000 for vacation expenses;
  •      $6,800 for groceries;
  •      $7,200 for meals at restaurants;
  •      $8,000 in gifts; and
  •      $2,000 in stationery.

Up to this point, Griffin has made monthly payments that include these expenses. However, Dias Griffin argues that her husband “missed multiple deadlines to file his required financial disclosures, which are part of the support determination.”

Are these expenses excessive, r does the state of Illinois really make child support decisions based on the lifestyle standards to which the children became accustomed during the marriage?

Child Support Obligations and Determinations in Illinois

It’s true that high-asset divorce cases come with particular problems and concerns. Indeed, when couples have hundreds of thousands of dollars—and in some cases millions, or even billions, of dollars—in various accounts, properties, and business ventures, courts can have their work cut out for them when it comes to property division. And high-asset divorces can also pose particular issues when it comes to child support. After all, the Illinois Child Support guidelines stipulate that child support obligations will be proportional to the number of children and the payor’s net income.

We need to take a look at the “net income” guidelines. Let’s say a couple with two children decides to file for divorce. The mother has been a stay-at-home parent for a number of years, and thus the father will be making child support payments. Now, under the Illinois guidelines, a support obligation for 2 children is 28 percent of the payor’s net income. If the payor’s net income is $20,000 per month, the support obligation (under the guidelines) will be $5,600 per month.

What if the payor’s net income, like Griffin’s, is much higher? Let’s say the payor’s net income is $100,000 per month. The support obligation under the guidelines would increase to $28,000 per month. What would a payor’s net income need to be in order for a court to stay within the guidelines and award $1 million per month in support payments?

The Griffins have 3 children. Under the guidelines, a child support payment would total 32 percent of the payor’s net income. For a $1 million per month support payment, Griffin would need to have a monthly income of more than $3.1 million. If this is the case, the court would be within the guidelines to award monthly child support payments totaling $1 million. As the Circuit Court of Cook County points out, a court will only deviate from the guidelines in rare circumstances. However, in cases where the payor’s income is very high, the likelihood that a court will deviate downwards from the guidelines grows; how much support does a child really “need”?

Contact a Chicago Child Support Lawyer

Do you have questions or concerns about child support payments and obligations? Don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer at M. Scott Gordon & Associates to learn more about how we can assist with your case.