I often tell my clients that “litigation is a luxury no one can afford.” It does not matter how much money one has; no one should want to spend it on litigation. The greater concern for those with significant incomes is that there are less “rules” for courts to follow. Statutes and case law often address situations of people of more modest incomes. For example, in New York, the statute that governs child support (Child Support Standards Act) caps the parties’ combined parental income at $141,000. If the combined parental income exceeds $141,000, then a court looks to numerous subjective standards to determine the appropriate amount of child support.
When you have clients earning incomes in the millions, the statute is of little use to a court. Therefore, if I am advising clients of these means what his or her child support obligation may be, it is very challenging because a judge has a lot of latitude in going above the cap and ascertaining the child’s “needs.” Does a child “need” a private car service? Does a child “need” three vacation homes? It is quite possible that a court may say he or she does.
Before walking into a courtroom, I will ask my client, “Are you a gambler?” Litigation is many times a crap shoot and even more so when you have assets and income that far surpass the statutory limits.