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Billionaire's 2 children each seek $400,000 a month [Updated]

August 11, 2010 |  4:23 pm

She can't talk about his other children. He can't talk about the other men in her life.

That's what a judge reaffirmed Wednesday in the child support battle between billionaire Orange County land developer Donald L. Bren and two children he fathered with a former girlfriend.

In a years-long legal feud set to start trial next week, Bren's now-adult children are seeking retroactive child support in the amount of $400,000 a month each for the years between 1988 and 2002.

According to their attorney, Bren was giving children Christie and David Bren a fraction of that sum -- about $10,000 a month -- for several years. Attorney Hillel Chodos is arguing that's not nearly enough, compared to estimates that Bren himself was spending roughly $3 million to $5 million a month during the years he would have been paying child support.

In a pretrial conference Wednesday, the two sides debated what could be presented at next week's jury trial.

Attorneys for the children were hoping to share with a jury the amount in child support Bren has paid to other children. Bren's attorneys wanted to discuss other men they say former girlfriend Jennifer McKay Gold was engaged to during the time she was involved with Bren. Judge Rex Heeseman said a jury won't hear about either.

"They're tying our hands," Gold said. "The judge is not giving us a chance to present evidence vital to our case."

The impending trial has been anticipated for years because it promises to detail much of Bren's wealth. The 78-year-old has an estimated net worth of $12 billion and is ranked by Forbes magazine to be the 16th richest American. Still, he is considered intensely private.

"If you can spend $3-to-$5 million a month, you can give $400,000 to your kids," Chodos said.

Chodos is arguing that Bren reneged on promises he made to the children, including agreements for financial support, and an ongoing relationship with their father.

Attorneys for Bren could not be reached for comment.

[Updated at 4:53 p.m.: Jonathan Freund, who is Bren’s personal attorney but is not defending Bren in this case, called the children's request unfair. He said Bren has fully complied with past child support agreements.

“He’s paid millions of dollars, and now 15 years later she’s coming out with an oral promise that she told no one about,” Freund said. “She’s just trying to get more money out of him.”]

-- Robert Faturechi