February 26, 2015 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
Back last summer, hedge fund manager Ken Griffin filed for divorce from his wife, Anne Dias-Griffin, who is herself the founder of Aragon Global Management (Business Insider, 7/24/14). Here’s what Dias-Griffin said through her attorney at the time:
Anne’s highest priority remains her family, especially the well-being of her children. She is hopeful that this personal matter can be resolved privately and in the best interests of her children.
Good for her; the welfare of the kids should always be parents’ top priority whether or not they’re divorcing. But that was then. Now we’re starting to get an idea of just what Dias-Griffin meant last July (The Journal, 2/24/15).
THE WIFE OF a US billionaire is claiming $1 million in child support which includes $6,800 for groceries and $300,000 for a private jet…
She first tried to claim the $1 million in living expenses as part of marital maintenance but this attempt failed and Dias-Griffin is now making a plea for the monthly payment as child support.
A breakdown from Page Six shows she is asking for:
$160,000 for vacation accommodations
$6,800 for groceries$7,200 for dining
$2,000 for stationery
$60,000 for office space and professional staff
$300,000 for a private jet
Under the terms of the couple’s prenuptial agreement, the woman has already received around $40 million. However she has petitioned for sole custody of their three children, who are all under 10, and an equitable division of their assets.
Now, it’s not like Ken Griffin can’t afford all of that and more. The man’s reported to be worth $6.5 billion. That means $1 million a month is barely a drop in the ocean. It’s 1/6,500th of his net worth. So we’ll shed no tears for the man, whatever he ends up paying to support his kids.
But by no stretch of the imagination should it be $1 million per month. I don’t care what he’s worth, his children don’t cost that much to care for. I don’t expect them to go from living a life of luxury that’s unimaginable to most people to one of dire poverty. But that won’t happen. Dias-Griffin has already received $40 million from his estate based on their pre-nuptial agreement. So there is essentially no chance that they will ever – in their entire lives – know an instant of concern about money. If they never receive a penny from their father and if they and their mother exercise even minimal care about their investments, from now until their dying days, they will be rich. Far likelier is the chance that they’ll receive huge sums from their father’s estate when he dies, in which event, they’ll be even richer.
It will be appropriate for Ken to support his children well. But as everyone knows, it requires comparatively little to support a child in a healthy, productive lifestyle. Anything beyond that becomes Mom support, not child support. And of course Dias-Griffiin’s court filings make that very point all too clearly. Apparently she first sought the amount as maintenance for herself and, when that was denied, she decided it was child support. Yes, those kids certainly need their own private jet. And $6,800 per month for food.
Of course few except the two people involved care about Ken Griffin or his ex-wife. Whatever the financial arrangement in the end, he’ll be fine and so will she and the kids. But there’s a principle at work here that applies to everyone. Child support should be for the kids, not the custodial parent. Given that she already has $40 million from Griffin and likely will get more in addition to whatever wealth she brought to the marriage, any amounts over the minimum required to meet the needs of their two children will in fact be Mom support.
And that’s what a lot of non-custodial parents strongly object to. NC parents who pay every month, but see their children without proper clothing, living without heat, going without proper medical care, etc., rightly ask where their hard-earned money is going.
But for all their protestations that parents need to support their children and that doing so is among the highest of public policies, state legislatures and child support enforcement authorities couldn’t care less. What they care about is that the money leaves the bank account of the non-custodial parent and appears in the hands of the state that (usually) sends it to the custodial parent. What she does with it is of virtually no interest to them.
In short, it’s important to note that, when we talk about child support, that’s not what we really mean. When we use the term ‘child support,’ we really mean a transfer of money from the non-custodial to the custodial parent after which, all bets are off.
After all, if we were really interested in the money’s going to children, we’d take any of a number of common-sense precautions to make sure it does so. We could issue debit cards that could only be used to purchase certain things that kids use, like food, medicine, school supplies, children’s clothing, rent, utilities and the like. We could require custodial parents to account for their expenditures of support money. That would be made simple by requiring custodial parents to open special child support bank accounts that would issue monthly statements of where the money was spent.
We could do any or all of that. If we did, non-custodial parents would feel a lot better about paying every month because they’d know that their money wasn’t going to support a disliked ex, but to their loved children. That would increase child support payments, a goal about which every legislator seems enthusiastic. But we don’t do the obvious, not because it’s unworkable or too expensive. We don’t do it because we don’t really care enough to ensure that “child support” actually goes to the kids.
Take another look at Anne Dias-Griffin’s list of demands. Those aren’t about supporting the children; they’re about leaching every last dime out of her ex-husband to support her own lifestyle. She and her attorneys know exactly what “child support” is about and they’re hoping to cash in. In the process, they teach us a lot about the realities of child support and the hypocrisies of the law and “child support” enforcement.
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