Child support demands don’t get much more outrageous than model Linda Evangelista’s. As the whole world knows by now, she’s gone to court to demand $46,000 per month for one child fathered by Francois-Henri Pinault. He’s the CEO of the conglomerate that owns Gucci, Yves St. Laurent and Bottega Veneta and reportedly received compensation of $5.3 million last year.
So whatever the judge ends up awarding Evangelista, Pinault can afford it. By the same token, Evangelista is reported to be worth about $8 million (I’m surprised it’s not more), and earned $1.8 million last year, so if Pinault never paid a dime, his son would want for nothing material.
But as this article explains, in New York, where the case is pending, child support isn’t calculated on the earnings of the spouses who bring home more than $130,000 annually (Huffington Post, 8/10/11). It’s calculated on the needs of the child. That makes sense because it avoids the type of outrageous child support awards Evangelista is seeking.
Reading between the lines, it’s easy to conclude that Evangelista’s main goal in the child support squabble is to cash in. After all, this is the same Linda Evangelista who famously said that she doesn’t “get out of bed for $10,000,” leading the tactless among us to wonder what she goes to bed for. Now we know.
Lawyers for Pinault took Evangelista’s deposition and inquired what a small child could possibly need with $46,000 per month. Her answer included several round-the-clock nannies and a couple of armed chauffeurs.
During a lengthy deposition last Tuesday, Pinault’s lawyer grilled her on just why she needs a team of heat-packing drivers who are former police detectives – at a cost of $175,000 a year. Evangelista also wants $80,000 a year for a nanny, Pinault lawyer David Aaronson complained to the judge.
Now think about the work requirements of a highly sought-after model. How much time does she actually spend – you know – at work? The answer is bound to be “not much.” She certainly doesn’t work 9 AM – 5 PM the way so many parents do. My guess is that she’s actually on the job only sporadically, but it seems that’s not all there is to being a super model.
“How many hours a week do you work?” the judge asked the model at one point.
“On days when I do not work, I am working on my image,” Evangelista answered, her voice soft, and tinged with defensiveness. “I have to hit the gym. I have beauty appointments. I have to work toward my next job and maintaining my image,” she said, “just like an athlete.”
Well, that’s one way to work on one’s image and doubtless necessary to a model. Another way of working on one’s image would be to try to avoid appearing like one was attempting to use the birth of a child to cash in. But that’s the kind of image with which Evangelista seems less concerned.
And speaking of motherhood, Evangelista also provided this gem in her deposition:
“She testified that she wants to have a 24-hour nanny because she does not want to be alone with the child…”
Yes, that does make being a mother more difficult. It also makes us wonder why she had the child in the first place. Lots of mothers and fathers value that time alone with a newborn more than just about anything, but not Evangelista. She wants the money. The kid? Not so much.
All of that is tawdry beyond even what we’ve come to expect from wealthy and privileged celebrities. But the linked-to article is even more so, seeking to justify the whole thing. And that’s particularly strange given the fact that the writer understands that child support in the case won’t be based on the earnings of the parents.
New York law states that in high income cases where parental income exceeds $130,000, as in this case, an award of child support should be based on the child’s actual needs and the amount required for the child to live an appropriate lifestyle.
But the writer, Evangeline Gomez, conflates the needs of the child with those of the mother. To Gomez, round-the-clock nannies for a mother who doesn’t want to be alone with the child is perfectly reasonable, even though she grudgingly admits that armed chauffeurs may be less so.
Face it, no child with competent parents needs a nanny 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, much less armed guards. Courts rightly expect parents to spend some time doing what parents do – taking care of the child. Evangelista seems not to want to do that, which strongly suggests the case should be more about who gets custody that the amount of child support to be paid.
Thanks to John for the heads-up.