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Railroad executive and wife split

Many outsiders looking in will rifle through public divorce documents when the cases involve celebrities or individuals of high standing in society. This offers them a view of how people with lavished lifestyles choose to negotiate a divorce, child custody and child support. It can also provide fodder for gossip. Regardless, more traditional divorcing couples in Minnesota can sometimes glean lessons from high-profile divorces that they can implement in their own proceedings.

A high-powered couple in nearby South Dakota has called it quits. The man started out as a legal aid for a U.S. senator before moving up to chief of staff. From the political arena, he went on to take an administrative role in a railroad company, which he did so with much success. He eventually became a millionaire. In 2007, he was married, and the same year, his wife became pregnant with their first child.

Planning for the event of a divorce, the couple signed a prenuptial agreement, which is a good idea for anyone with significant assets. The prenup stated that, in the event of the divorce, the man's wife would receive anywhere between $1 million and $5 million.

Meanwhile, their child suffered from Down syndrome and required heart surgery. The woman and her daughter frequently made trips to New York City for medical treatment. Eventually, the woman wanted to move there permanently, but the man did not. The two divorced and the woman received the $5 million specified in the prenup. As the divorce was ongoing, the couple gave birth to a second child.

The woman was awarded $2,815 a month in child support payments, which she felt was too low. She appealed the decision to the state's Supreme Court, but was turned down. However, two justices filed a partial dissent that said on top of the monthly child support payments, the man would be 95 responsible for costs stemming from the children, such as the girl's intense medical treatment.

Source: Rapid City Journal, "A saga of great success and deep misfortune," Bob Mercer, Jan. 25, 2013

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