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Big money at stake in child support trial of high-octane couple

Whether in Rhode Island or another state, a divorce involving children can be a challenge for parting spouses, with child custody and child support being two major issues of conflict. If the parents cannot reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, sustained battle can affect children in many ways, almost all of them negative. This is true whether or not money is an issue for either parent.

Two high-profile professionals with ties to government, economics and law are currently battling in court, and in full public view, over child support and possible spousal support. Peter Orszag, one-time director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget, and his former spouse, Cameron Kennedy, a consultant at McKinsey & Co., are going head-to-head in a Washington, D.C. court over support of the couple's children. Their attorneys are arguing over whether the couple's existing child support arrangements need to be revised.

Orszag's income in 2006 when the couple divorced was considerably less than his $3.1 million income in 2013. Kennedy is now asking for direct monthly payments of $22,000, which Orszag's lawyer has termed "backdoor alimony cloaked as child support."

In 2006, Orszag set up a trust fund worth $400,000 to take care of tuition and other expenses for the couple's two children. He has since offered to replenish that fund, which is apparently exhausted. Kennedy's lawyer has rejected that offer, claiming that Orszag was trying to control the children's education. He noted that Kennedy's lifestyle was far less opulent than Orszag's.

Beyond meeting children's needs, child support orders usually consider the incomes of both parents. Despite pre-existing guidelines, support payments can be increased for certain justifiable reasons such as increases in the costs of living. On the other hand, a sudden decrease in a parent's income may justify a modification order that requires him or her to pay less. Anyone dealing with these issues should consult an attorney.

Source: The Washington Post, "Peter Orszag and ex-wife in contentious court fight over child support," Emily Heil, Mar. 12, 2014

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