High-Stakes Divorce Case Illustrates Family Law Issues

The contentious family law case between two people who were once the richest in San Diego County continues. Linda Brandes has asked the court to modify the amount of spousal support she receives from her former husband, Charles.

Linda Brandes was a modestly compensated city librarian when she met her money-manager husband, but she says she helped him improve his image and influence. Eventually, Charles Brandes became a very successful investor.

At the time of the couple’s divorce in San Diego, in the year 2004, the San Diego Superior Court awarded Linda Brandes $500,000 a month in spousal support. Since that time, Charles Brandes has earned nearly $1 billion and has enjoyed a significant windfall from a stock deal.

Linda Brandes asked the court to change her monthly support to $750,000, arguing that she is worried she will run out of money.

Modifications to California Alimony Orders

Significant changes in income or assets may prompt either party – the former spouse who is paying support or the former spouse who is receiving spousal support – to ask the court to modify the support plan. Even if the exes have a harmonious relationship, they should make any changes formal via the court. If the spouses cannot make an agreement, the court certainly will be needed.

In making the original spousal support award, the court will consider a number of factors, including the length of the marriage; the skills, work history and education of each spouse; the spouses’ ages and medical conditions; and each spouse’s ability to pay support.

In reviewing a request to modify a spousal support award, the court will consider the significance of the change in circumstances. In many cases, the party seeking to modify the amount of alimony is seeking the change because of a drop in income. In the case of Linda and Charles Brandes, however, Linda Brandes appears to be seeking an increase because of her changing needs, her former husband’s increase in income and her previous contribution to his current success.

Property Division in High-Asset Divorces

Appropriate valuation of assets and debts is vital, particularly in high-asset divorces. Attorneys for spouses with high assets will work to discover the location and true value of each partner’s property.

Couples with high assets typically have a variety of assets and incomes. Each party will want to feel assured that they are aware of the other party’s assets and debts, especially in a community property state like California.

Speak With an Attorney

Whether you are seeking a modification of support or are contemplating divorce, an experienced San Diego family law attorney can offer the guidance you need. During a high-asset divorce or other family law matter, it is of the utmost importance to receive knowledgeable counsel.