Cruise Control

Protect your assets like a celebrity!

While Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini was recently successful in shielding his financial divorce documents from prying eyes, the same can’t be said for the financial terms surrounding the quickie divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

According to oneUSmedia source, Katie walked away with no spousal support from Tom, or any share in Tom’s assets, certainly noteworthy considering he’s worth approximately 250 million US dollars.

All of which is not so surprising since the pair apparently inked an ironclad pre-nup, which no doubt specified no support or asset division in the event of divorce.

But before anyone sheds any tears for Katie, she will repeatedly be receiving child support payments of approximately $33,300.00 per month for their daughter Suri, until she turns 18 years of age.

Here in BC, the amount of child support is calculated by using the income of the paying spouse, and the Federal Child Support Guidelines.  I have no way of knowing how they calculated this amount for Tom.  (However, for those curious souls like me, if Tom was here working in BC and paying child support of $33,300.00 for 1 child, he would need to have an income of approximately $4,500,000.00).

However, just like here in BC, Tom is also responsible for additional expenses, such as Suri’s tuition, ($40,000.00 per year), medical expenses, etc.  In BC, Tom and Katie would share such expenses in proportion to their respective incomes, (and adjust annually), or they could simply agree to share them 50/50.

According to the sameUSsource, one of the divorce terms also specifies that Suri not attend any sort of “ residential school,” which has been interpreted by some as meaning a residential school associated with theschoolofScientology.  Not sure if that’s the correct interpretation, although I am fairly certain the exact nature of the “residential school” to be avoided, is clarified in the divorce settlement, otherwise Suri would have a difficult time eventually attending any long distance educational institutions, (such as college or university), and residing in residence.

For those of us non-celebrities contemplating a pre-nup, (also called a Marriage Agreement), it can be an extremely advantageous document to have in your pocket, (or purse), saving you legal costs, stress, and delay, in the event of a separation or divorce.

So take my advice, make like a celebrity, and get one!  Did I mention, I’m a family lawyer who prepares pre-nups and Marriage Agreements……?

P.S.  The family law regarding division of property, (and other matters), on separation are changing in March of 2013.  It’s a good time to review your options!

Child Support Matters! A Primer


Important things to know if you’re paying or receiving child support!

In my experience providing family law advice to separating or divorcing parents there are rarely questions asked about how much child support is to be paid. After all the Federal Child Support Guidelines have been around for a while, and are simple to use. Just figure out the income and the number of children and voila, the chart provides the answer. There is virtually no wriggle room in the calculation.

However the same cannot be said for when child support should end. It is not when a child turns 18 years of age, although there are very rare exceptions which I won’t delve into today. Typically, child support end when a child turns 19 years old. Again however, there are exceptions.

The most common, if a child is in full-time attendance at an accredited post secondary educational institution.

But it is helpful to understand that the child support rules which apply for a younger child do not automatically apply when a child turns 19 years old. In particular it will be expected that a child through their own endeavours, ie part-time employment, contribute towards their own educational expenses.

These are called Special Expenses. So for example, child support may terminate when a child turns 19, but if the child is attending school, the child may be expected to contribute one third towards school expenses, with each parent contributing one third. Also, unless specified in a written agreement or court order, there is no rule which limits child to support until a child completes a first degree.

Also, contrary to popular myths a child who is not attending school at 19 does not automatically lose entitlement to child support forever. If that child attends school at a later date they could become entitled to future support.

Since all circumstances are unique, and the consequences can be severe, before you decide to terminate child support, or give up receiving it, consult an experienced family lawyer such as me. It could be the wisest investment decision you’ll ever make.