Wednesday, February 19, 2020

In re Marriage of Grimes and Mou (Cal. Ct. App. - Feb. 19, 2020)

Imagine what a family who lives a middle- to upper-middle class lifestyle looks like.  Make sure you account for the fact that we're talking about California, where things are a bit more expensive.  To be clear:  We're not talking upper class, or top one percent.  Just a "middle- to upper-middle class" lifestyle.

How much are they making at work, what car(s) are they driving, etc.?

I ask that because today's divorce appeal is about a couple up in Northern California which says (at page 7 of the opinion) that "the family enjoyed what Grimes described as a middle to upper-middle class lifestyle."  And I'm sure that the relevant spouse -- probably, both of them -- thought they lived precisely such a lifestyle.

The underlying facts of this "middle- to upper-middle class lifestyle are that "Grimes was 43 years old and worked as an engineering manager at Google/YouTube. He had been employed at Google/YouTube since November 2006. Grimes earned a base salary of $230,00 per year in 2018, and received Google Stock Units (GSU), the most recent grant of which was worth approximately $200,000 and vested monthly over a four-year period. In addition, Grimes was eligible for a discretionary bonus. From 2011 through 2015, Grimes and Mou had a yearly total gross income of $316,260, $342,294, $447,639, $543,443, and $778,660, respectively."

As for what this money bought:  "One child attended private school. The family owned three cars: a Subaru Legacy station wagon purchased new in 2005, a 2002 Lexus purchased around 2008, and a 2012 Porsche 911 purchased in 2013. The family went on vacation regularly during marriage, at a cost of around $5,000 annually. They dined out about once per month, spending about $60 to $70 per meal. At the time of their separation in July 2015, Grimes and Mou were renting a home in Palo Alto. Grimes continued to pay the rent and utilities (a cost of about $5,000 to $5,300 per month) voluntarily for about a year after the separation."

Does your average California "middle- to upper-middle class" family drive a basically new Porche 911 (alongside their two other cars), rent a house at $5,000 per month, have a kid in private school, and earn a minimum of $300,000 a year and up to three quarters of a million dollars a year?

Lots of people think they live (or come from) middle- or upper-middle class backgrounds.  This is an example of what that may mean.