Even billionaires have baby-mama drama

The Canadian supermodel who famously said she doesn't wake up for less than $10,000 a day is now seeking child support for her son, who apparently needs close to $1,500 per day.

According to court papers filed earlier this year by Canadian supermodel Linda Evangelista, François-Henri Pinault, the French billionaire fashion CEO now married to actress Salma Hayek, is the biological father of her five year old son, Augustin James, "Augie." Pinault also has two children from a previous marriage, and a daughter, Valentina, age 3, with Hayek. Last week marked the beginning of a contentious trial in a Manhattan family court to determine the amount of child support Pinault will be required to pay Evangelista.

It's Going to Get Ugly

The relationship between Evangelista and Pinault has been strained for some time. According to Evangelista's lawyers, when informed that the supermodel was pregnant with his child, Pinault responded by suggesting the she have an abortion. Responding to rumors that he suggested the pregnancy be terminated, Pinault testified in court last week that though he was "not involved in the decision" to have the child and was not in a position to parent the child, he nevertheless assured Evangelista that he would "recognize the baby."

Evangelista is now seeking $46,000/month in child support for Augustin. According to the Post, this amount includes up to $16,000 for armed ex-NYPD detective chauffeurs and $7,000 for live-in nannies. Evangelista has paid almost all of Augustin's expenses since his birth. However, her usual $1.8 million/year income took a severe hit last year when a major contract with L'Oreal ended. According to the Post, the judge in the matter acknowledged that there are certain extraordinary expenses that may be a part of raising a child in the spotlight and recognized that Evangelista's work schedule, which she testified can sometimes include 16-hour days, must also be considered.

Reasonable or Ridiculous?

When it comes to child support, there's a thin line between reasonable and ridiculous. After all, reasonable is relative, and if you're accustomed to spending $46,000 on your child per month, as Evangelista claims, the lines might tend to get blurred.

Although $46,000/month may sound preposterous to some, there are two factors that support Evangelista's claim for such hefty child support. First, according to a recent estimation by Forbes, Pinault's luxury goods empire is reportedly worth $13 billion, and he made $5.4 million in 2010 alone. In New York, where court documents were filed, the law requires a support payor to pay 17% of his earnings in child support. For Pinault, this would mean $920,000/year or almost $77,000/month. In light of this fact, Pinault would make out well if he was compelled to pay a measly $46,000.

In Ontario, where the support payor's income is over $150,000, the process for determining child support differs somewhat. s. 4 of the Child Support Guidelines (CSG) states that:

4.Where the income of the parent or spouse against whom an order for the support of a child is sought is over $150,000, the amount of an order for the support of a child is,

(a) the amount determined under section 3; or

(b) if the court considers that amount to be inappropriate,

(i) in respect of the first $150,000 of the parent's or spouse's income, the amount set out in the table for the number of children under the age of majority to whom the order relates,

(ii) in respect of the balance of the parent's or spouse's income, the amount that the court considers appropriate, having regard to the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of the children who are entitled to support and the financial ability of each parent or spouse to contribute to the support of the children, and

(iii) the amount, if any, determined under section 7

This means that the support payor will either have to pay the table amount, or where the judge deems appropriate, the court may use its discretion to determine support having regard to the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of the child/children entitled to support.

Second, in this instance, there exists a comparator group against which "reasonable" child support can be measured: Pinault's other young child, Valentina. Pinault has been forced to disclose details of the extravagant lifestyle he provides Valentina, including how the child was taken on a 12-day holiday to Bora Bora at a cost of more than $50,000, and how a $12-million Los Angeles home is held in trust for the child. The fact that Pinault spends so lavishly on his other child diminishes, somewhat, his argument ridiculing the sum proposed by Evangelista. Nevertheless, the judge dismissed the $7,500 the supermodel was seeking for monthly vacation expenses.

In Ontario, special or extraordinary expenses, such as child care expenses incurred as a result of the custodial parent's employment or extraordinary expenses for extra-curricular activities are dealt with under s. 7 of the CSG. On the request of the applicant, the court may provide for an amount to cover special or extraordinary expenses, taking into account the necessity of the expenses in relation to the child's best interests, the reasonableness of the expenses in relation to the means of the parents, and the spending pattern of the parents or spouses in respect of the child during cohabitation.

Although the amount claimed by Evangelista may appear ridiculous and outrageous to some, it would not be surprising if young Augustin ended up with $46,000/month in support. After all, in October 2010, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian was ordered to pay $10.25 million in back child support despite the fact that his ex-wife's child wasn't Kerkorian's biological daughter. The 93-year old, who has a net worth of approximately $3.1 billion, was also ordered to pay $100,000/month. The case between Evangelista and Pinault settled for an undisclosed amount.

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