A Professional Athlete’s Playbook to Divorce
Houston is the home to several professional sports teams – the Astros, the Texans, the Rockets, and the Dynamo – so our city is filled with professional athletes. Athletes are notoriously focused on their game and sometimes family issues, including a divorce, can result from that. Do professional athletes have any special considerations when it comes to a divorce? The answer is a resounding yes and any professional athletes contemplating a divorce should consider the following.
Division of Property
Texas is a community property state, so any earning or endorsement deals a professional athlete secured prior to marriage is his or her separate property and not subject to a just and right division by the family law court system. Earnings or assets acquired after marriage are subject to division, so it’s vital to have a skilled legal team who can help protect those assets and get the best property division as possible.
The State of Texas does not have the concept of “alimony” and the support mechanism the courts do use – “post-divorce maintenance” – is limited in scope and duration, a huge draw for professional athletes. The amount of support, if any is ordered, is typically capped and limited for a specific period of time, dependent on the length of marriage. The shorter the marriage, the shorter amount of time that support may be ordered. Post-divorce maintenance is also less likely to be awarded if there is a sizeable property settlement. Given that other states have much more lenient alimony laws, many professional athletes find solace in the laws and limitations of Texas’ post-divorce maintenance regulations.
Professional athletes typically do not just earn a single paycheck. There are complicated salary structures which include weekly game checks, signing bonuses, performance bonuses, endorsement deal payments, etc. It can be difficult to ascertain the exact earnings of a professional athlete and establishing what money is community and what money is separate. The qualified team at Ramos Law Group, PLLC can
Another silver lining in the Texas divorce process for professional athletes is that the mandatory waiting period for a divorce to be granted is quite short compared to other states. Some states require a lengthy period of legal separation before a divorce may be granted. The State of Texas only requires 60 days from the date of filing until the divorce may be filed. This short period allows for an amicable divorce or agreed upon settlement be reached quickly (assuming the parties have an agreement) and a divorce can be completed in a little over two months.
One of the greatest benefits to having a divorce of family law matter involving child support in the State of Texas is that the Texas Family Code has capped the amount of maximum child support. There is a percentage based on the number of children, but only the first $8550 of a player’s monthly net income is considered for child calculation purposes. Now, if you’re Tom Brady it is likely that the needs of a child would exceed the normal guideline amounts and there are circumstances where a judge will order above-guideline child support amounts. But the Texas Family Code does have the child support guidelines in place and one does not typically see the enormous child support obligations in Texas that are ordered in states like New York or California.
Professional athletes going through a divorce want to focus on their game and season and not have their divorce play out publicly in the press. Typically, family law cases are public record. The Texas Family Code allows for a litigant to file a Motion to Seal which can grant some anonymity to a high-profile athlete.
The Ramos Law Group, PLLC has a history of representing well-known and respected professional athletes, including NFL players. Mary Ramos and her associates are knowledgeable with a deep playbook and are well-equipped to handle any of the special concerns that come with a professional athlete going through a divorce in Texas.