Professional Athlete Divorce Attorney in California
Common family law issues such as divorce, child custody, spousal support, and property division are often challenging in cases when couples decide to end their marriage. The emotional roller coaster can seem overwhelming.
Professional athletes are paid to perform. It's their career that usually takes a lifetime to achieve. Most have to stay in top physical condition. Thus, anything that has the potential to impact their focus and training can be detrimental to their livelihood.
When professional athletes seek a divorce in California, they need a family law attorney with experience dealing with complex high-net-worth divorces. These include athletes in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and other professional sports. They typically have a demanding work, travel, and training schedule.
The court needs to know they have a unique demand schedule that will generally impact the amount of time they can spend with their children. This could affect child support payments.
In California, a program called “DissoMaster” helps determines child support obligations. For professional athletes with a high income, the amount of child support they could be ordered to pay is often substantial.
Your family law lawyer must know how to convince a judge to deviate from California's child support guidelines when appropriate.
Professional athletes have specific needs in family law issues and have several unique challenges not found in a traditional divorce. One such difference is that most athletes at this level will have a manager or agent who always seeks their client's best interests.
A family law attorney must know how to work with professional athlete's representatives and develop a strategy for the best outcome based on their unique circumstances.
They must also have excellent negotiating skills in court. Our California divorce and family law attorneys will look at this topic in more detail below.
What About Child Custody and Support Issues?
In a divorce, most professional athletes will need to seek a child custody arrangement that fits their lifestyle of frequent travel.
Maintaining a close relationship with their kids in divorce is usually a top priority for most parents. This is also true for parents who were never legally married. Unmarried fathers have become relatively common and have legal rights to be a part of their kid's life.
Creating a mutual agreement on child custody and support requires special considerations when a parent is a professional athlete. For example, the demands of your career will naturally impact a child custody and visitation arrangement.
Further, a professional athlete's income can vary widely from one year to the next. It's not unusual for their career to suddenly end due to a significant injury. This means you will need legal representation to ensure a fair agreement on child support payments and modification when appropriate.
Just to let you know, California child support is calculated based on a formula listed within their guidelines. Thus, calculating appropriate child support for professional athletes requires considering their unique income. In a traditional divorce, the guidelines will consider the following factors, such as:
- Parent's income,
- Healthcare expenses,
- Education expenses,
- Daycare costs.
Professional athletes with a contract to play with a sports team typically have early years of highly predictable income followed by much lower compensation as they get close to retirement, often without advanced notice.
One of the unique circumstances of a California divorce involving a professional athlete is that many will also have outside income and assets from sources, including:
- Company endorsements,
- Contract incentives,
- Injury settlements,
- Business ownership,
- Numerous real estate properties,
This means that California's guidelines can create unfair support orders by a family law court because the guidelines are designed to deal with traditional sources of income. High-net-worth spousal support is based on different factors.
What About Modifications of Family Court Orders?
When family law matters are being reviewed in court, negotiation with your spouse is expected to reach a fair mutual agreement on issues of:
- Child custody and visitation,
- Child support,
- Spousal support,
- Property division.
If you cannot agree with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, you are forcing the court to make decisions for you. They don't always turn out as expected. Once the family court has issued support and other orders, any change will require a return to court for a modification.
Circumstances change, and children start to grow up and have different needs.
Professional athletes have unique careers that require flexibility to deal with income that often vary significantly from year to year, the possibility of relocating to sign a contract with a different sports organization, and dealing with injuries that often impact their income.
When your current court orders no longer represent the realities you live under, you will have to take court action to modify them. The first step is to retain a family law attorney who can petition the court to change an order.
What About Prenuptial Agreements for Pro Athletes?
Most professional athletes have the potential to make a substantial income and have numerous assets. In that case, it's necessary to protect them in case of a divorce.
- Property division,
- Dividing assets and debts,
- Spousal support (alimony),
- Real estate property,
- Marital home,
- Stocks and bonds,
- Investment accounts.
They effectively manage your finances and find common ground with your spouse without forcing a family court to make the decisions.
Professional athletes often own substantial assets and property.
During the division of community property, which is part of a divorce process, the court will always work to divide the assets and debts of the marriage equally. This is another reason why you need to draft a prenup.
The primary question regarding the division of property is usually determining whether it's a community (marital) or separate property.
Our family law attorneys know how to deal with the specific issues that confront professional athletes during the property division.
We can help you draft a prenup or postnup to address these issues.
What About Spousal Support Issues for Pro Athletes?
Spousal support is primarily designed to allow spouses to maintain the quality of life they enjoyed during the marriage. In divorces where one spouse is a high-income earner, such as a pro athlete, spousal support frequently becomes a complex debated matter.
Professional athletes who are getting divorced need to have legal representation that knows how to establish spousal support based on significant income that will likely fluctuate. Spousal support is usually based on the following factors:
- Income of both spouses,
- Earning potential,
- Ability and skills for a new occupation,
- Health and age.
Spousal support usually is temporary, and the ex-spouse is expected to become self-supporting at some point, but each case is unique.
The income of pro athletes can vary dramatically from year to year, and you will need to ensure that any spousal support is based on the most current income assessment.
How Can a Family Law Lawyer Help You?
If you are a professional athlete and seeking legal representation in a family law issue, such as a divorce, we can help you.
Suppose you are going through a difficult family situation and need assistance with a restraining order. In that case, we can help you if there is domestic abuse or stalking. Any domestic violence situation is a serious legal matter.
Your status as a pro athlete can be ruined after a domestic abuse incident. There are many well-documented cases where an athlete was cut from their team after reports of domestic violence against their spouse.
You need family law legal representation that can protect your legal rights. Perhaps you must pursue an emergency protective order (EPO), temporary protective order (TRO), or permanent restraining order.
Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys that serve people throughout Southern California. Contact us for a free case evaluation by phone or fill out the contact form.