Child-support drama ends in legal win for Peter Orszag

Then-OMB Director Peter Orszag with wife Bianna Golodryga at the 2010 state dinner for Mexican President Felipe Calderon. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post) Then-OMB Director Peter Orszag with wife Bianna Golodryga at the 2010 state dinner for Mexican President Felipe Calderon. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

After two years, former Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag’s child-support battle with ex-wife Cameron Kennedy ended emphatically Thursday. The D.C. Superior Court flatly rejected Kennedy’s request for child support, calling her “insistence” on receiving $22,000 in direct monthly payments “curious.”

“Indeed, given the contentious nature seemingly of all interactions between the parties,” the 64-page ruling said, “it is likely in the best interest of the children for the Court to avoid putting in place any arrangement that would lead to increased contact between the parties.”

Instead, Orszag has been ordered to pay “the entirety” of their children’s private-school tuition (more than $34,000 a year per child), the costs of their summer camp, unreimbursed medical expenses and extracurricular activities. Orszag and Kennedy have a 14-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.

Kennedy will pay her own attorney’s fees.

“We are very pleased with this ruling,” said Orszag attorney Anne White. “It truly reflects the focus on the children, which is where it should be.”

Kennedy’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

After the couple divorced in 2006, Orszag, who remarried, agreed to fund a $400,000 trust for their children’s school tuition and major expenses. Two years later, Orszag and Kennedy amended that agreement, agreeing to split the costs of child care and vacations, as well.

But in 2010, the former Obama administration official left Washington for a job at Citigroup in New York. His salary shot up by 2,600 percent over his Cabinet-position salary — from about $145,000 in 2007 to $3.6 million in 2012 (he’s expected to earn $4 million in 2014). In 2012, Kennedy filed a petition to once again modify the couple’s child-support arrangement.

(Orszag had fought to keep private the details of his income; Judge Alfred S. Irving Jr. sided against him, saying it was
“both inappropriate and untenable” to shield Orszag.)

“We’re here today on account of greed,” said Orszag lawyer Darryl Feldman at the start of the trial in March. Orzag’s team contended that Kennedy, who remarried and makes $350,000 a year working for the McKinsey consulting firm, would use the hefty child-support payments as “backdoor alimony.”

Kennedy’s camp countered that Orszag’s initial offer to pay his children’s tuition and replenish the trust fund was a means of controlling what schools they attended. The court decided that the two children, who attend Georgetown Day School, vacation in Hawaii and have private sports coaches, are “living the lifestyle befitting the children of wealthy parents” in both homes.

“Ms. Kennedy is also a high-earning party, capable of providing a more than comfortable lifestyle and many advantages for her children, even in the absence of any assistance from Mr. Orszag,” the court ruled Thursday.

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Helena Andrews is the co-author of The Reliable Source. Follow her on Twitter @helena_andrews, and send your hot tips, sightings, and gossip to reliablesource@washpost.com.
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JulieAnn McKellogg · July 10, 2014