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$1M a Month in Child Support Is Not Too Much

The details are juicy. Anne Dias Griffin is divorcing billionaire Ken Griffin and has reportedly claimed monthly expenses which include $6,800 for groceries, $7,200 for dining out, $60,000 for office space and nannies, $160,000 for vacations, $300,000 for a private jet and $2,000 for stationery.

The complete list amounts to about $1 million in monthly child support. The couple are parents to three children under 8. If you read about this, or any other extreme child support case in the media, you'll be sure find a stream of vitriol directed at these wealthy moms.

Is the antagonism merited? I don't think so. Because here's what I say: More power to you, Anne.

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While these astronomical figures likely seem ludicrous to average moms like us, there’s a rationale behind the huge payouts. That same rationale is often used to guard the interests of children in families of more modest means.

The law in Illinois, where the Griffins live, and the law in many other states, deems that children of a marriage are entitled to maintain the lifestyle they enjoyed when the parents were married. This position draws naysayers, but the law grew out of the practice of husbands threatening their wives with financial ruin should divorce ever cross a mother’s mind.

Before this law, many wives and children were left destitute.

Does anyone really need to spend $2,000 on stationery? That's lot of money to spend on pretty paper, but it's not a lot of money for the Griffins (who have an estimated net worth of $5 billion). It would seem that this is what Anne Griffin really wants to preserve—that $2,000 wouldn't suddenly become a lot of money. That would, after all, be a drastic change, and one that Anne and her children shouldn't have to endure despite the sense of schadenfreude such an event might spur. The nasty comments directed at Anne point to a darker social phenomenon: why do we want to see divorced moms suffer?

Anne Griffin is well within her rights, as any mom in her position would be. I don't begrudge her the cushy child support order. That's just one way she's watching out for her family.

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Moreover, in divorce cases involving everyday parents, the same law is used to protect a child’s right to live in a safe home, have access to healthcare or enjoy an after-school program. It's true that an average earning couple would have to work harder to maintain a comparable lifestyle for their kids post-divorce while also facing the challenges of maintaining two households.

A divorce is a major change and both parents should be invested in persevering a semblance of normalcy for their children where possible, especially in light of new parental dynamics. For Anne, that just happens to mean keeping her private jet.

Image via Harvard Business School

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