Monday, February 28, 2011

The Offseason

Given their respective schedules, there is no one time that all 4 major sports are off.   However, right now, the NFL is off, baseball really hasn't started and the NHL is beginning to wind down (do the NBA and NHL have incredibly long post season play or what?).   The offseaon would be a good time for divorces, custody matters, whatever issue to move forward.    You don't have to worry about games and practices.  

Non sports folks don't get an offseason when things can be scheduled.  Nor do they get to ask the court for special consideration.       The court sets the hearing dates.    The parties just have to tell their employer they need the time off for court.   Then there is meeting with the attorney for discovery, trial strategy, etc.    Depositions need to be scheduled.    Attorneys like their weekends too, so we tend not to schedule around our client's schedules.  All in all, a court matter means a lot of time missed from work.  

What is the solution?   Don't get a divorce?   Don't fight for custody of your kids?   Hardly.   If you must take your family law matter to court, do it.   Accept the timing and do your best.   It is all one can ever do.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Obama Administration Shifts Stance on DOMA

Although this is not sports related, it is still huge news in the family law field.   DOMA is the Defense of Marriage Act passed by a Republican Congress during the Bush Administration.    Basically, it defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.    Naturally there were court challenges to this under States Rights' and Equal Protection Provisions.   The cases started under the Bush administration.   However since sometimes justice is a long slow process, they are still making through way through various appellate courts. 

The Obama Administration, as the branch of government charged with enforcing laws continued the Bush Administration policy of defending the law against all challenges in court.   The new stance announced today means the defense in court will end.*   Without any opposition, the challenges in court will win by default.   This effectively means, by my interpretation that DOMA is dead.   The courts may require a response, but then the Administration can just provide a response that says "we cannot offer a non-frivolous argument."   Since the court really frowns on making frivolous arguments, they will love an attorney who refuses to make one.   Of course, this is speculation on my part as to how this will play out.  

In the sport world, whether or not DOMA survives will not make a darn bit of difference.   As far as I know there are no openly gay athletes in the 4 major sports I focus this blog on:   NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.    If there are openly gay athletes in other sports, I would love to hear about it.   But, until athletes feel comfortable and safe being out, whether or not gays can marry will not affect their family law issues.  

*Until formally repealed by Congress or declared unconstitutional by the courts, the Executive Branch agencies will continue to enforce the law.   Yes, that's confusing I know.   The Administration is saying it will enforce a law it feels is unconstitutional.    Has a bit of a feel of trying to have it both ways to it. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Divorce and the Pro Athlete

One of the cool things about writing this blog is that reading sports websites now constitutes research.   Yep, reading SI, PFT, ESPN, and all those other sites is now "work."   As I am sitting here tonight with a gin and tonic in hand, doing research for future posts, I ran across a rather scary statistic.  

The divorce rate for pro athletes ranges from 60 - 80%.  

That is all major sports:  NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB. 

The divorce rate for the average population is 50%.    This means if those numbers are accurate, athletes divorce at a significantly higher rate than the average public.  

Even more frightening is that there is anecdotal evidence that most pro athletes divorce within a year or two of retiring (really retiring for good, no come backs).    That means when the crowds and the adulation go away, so does the marriage.

There are many reasons for the demise of a marriage.   I would like to think that athletes divorce for the same reasons the rest of the population does.   Reasons like, incompatibility, domestic violence, money, affairs, just not wanting to be married anymore.   But that number tells me more is at work here when it comes to a pro athlete's marriage ending.  

Whatever the reason though, pro athlete or not, the goal of the divorce remains the same.   Preparing two people to go forward into their new unmarried lives.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Murder Is not an Option

I ran across this headline today "Rae Carruth Loses Appeal".   Who, you may ask is Rae Carruth?   He was the Carolina Panthers' first round pick in 1997.   In 1999, his girlfriend who was eight months pregnant at the time was shot in her car while driving her car.   The girlfriend, Cherica Adams, died of the gunshot wounds.   Carruth was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child in 2001.   He was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison.   He allegedly wanted Adams dead because he was afraid of losing his starting job with the Panthers (he was dealing with injuries at the time of the murder) and didn't want to be stuck with child support.

I'll let the criminal defense types deal with the appeal issues.   Let's break this down from a family law perspective.   Carruth was an idiot (that is a technical legal term).

First and foremost, there is no good reason to take the life of another human being, except in self-defense.  So he was an idiot for thinking murder was a good solution to a temporary problem.

Because it was just a temporary problem.   Child support is not forever.   In Maryland, it only lasts until the child turns 18 or graduates high school whichever is later.   Some states do allow for longer periods of child support, provided the child is enrolled full-time in a college or technical school.  

Also, Carruth was concerned about having to pay child support based on his NFL salary.   But, child support is generally modifiable based on actual income.   I'll leave aside the issue of involuntary impoverishment for now.    Presumably, if Carruth were cut by the Panthers, he would find other work.   He could then request the court modify his child support obligation based on his actual income.  

So, Carruth took the life of another human being in order to avoid 18 years of child support.   He chose to kill someone and now has to serve 18 to 24 years in prison.   I am thinking 18 years in prison is lot worse than 18 years of making child support payments.  

Here's the real kicker:   the unborn child survived.   He has severe injuries.   So, his alleged reason for participating in the murder backfired anyway.   He will be expected to pay the back support when he is released from prison.   Unlike the actual obligations, the obligation to repay the arrears (missed payments) continues until all the arrears are paid.   I have no idea how the arrearages will be calculated, but I am betting it will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range.   If I were Cherica Adams family who have guardianship of the child, I would ask that the support be calculated based on his salary at the time of the child's birth.   Yep, that NFL salary he was afraid of losing.   The arrearages will also include any extraordinary medical expenses for the child too.  

In other words, Rae Carruth is doing 18 to 24 only to have to face making the child support payments anyway.   Like I said, "Idiot!"

Monday, February 14, 2011


Welcome to Divorce Field.   I had to use field because "Divorce Court" is the name of a tv show.   This blog will use the family law trials and tribulations of athletes as a starting point for discussions on family law issues. 

Why athletes?   Simple.   I LOVE football.   I am addict.   I watch NFL Network regularly.   I even write about football over on Associated Content.   This blog will cover other sports, but expect a lot of emphasis on football.   Also, because I am human and interested in the world in general, expect some posts not related to sports or the law. 

I do not represent any of these athletes.   Any issues raised will be based on what is publicly available.   No minor children will be identified EVER, even if the name(s) are available elsewhere.  

Nothing in this blog is to be construed as legal advice.   Anything stated here is the opinion of the author only, please consult a lawyer licensed in your state regarding your family law situation.  

Disclaimers out of the way, have fun.   I hope to have some lively discussions here.