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Gift or loan? That is the question in high-asset support matter

Disputes surrounding child support often centrally feature in high-asset divorce matters, and a multijurisdictional and global dispute regarding the amount of support payments is illustrative of the types of questions and concerns often involved.

The case actually involves a couple who, after having spent a considerable amount of time together and being engaged at one point, ultimately decided not to marry. They split just months before their daughter was born in 2007.

The woman subsequently met and began dating another man, just at around the time that she and her former partner -- a Wall Street business titan -- escalated their dispute over child support payments for their child. The woman relocated with the daughter to Hong Kong, where she had grown up as the daughter of the ultra-wealthy ex-chairman of the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation.

What is at the heart of the couple's current dispute is the amount of child support currently being paid by the father, as ordered by a Hong Kong court. At more than $50,000 per month (including school and tutoring), the amount is reported to be among the highest ever awarded in the colony.

The father says it is based on fraud and conspiracy between the mother of his daughter and her present boyfriend, who is also a wealthy financier. A lawsuit filed recently in New York contends that the boyfriend is gifting the woman with millions of dollars in cash that is being miscategorized as loans in order that she can disguise and deflate her income, thus increasing her support payments.

The father says that he is bringing the case "to prevent an injustice."

Source: New York Times, "Millionaires clash over socialite's child support claims," Peter Lattman, April 25, 2013

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