In March, the National Football League (“NFL”) locked out its players after the league and the players’ union failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement for the 2011-12 season. For most fans, that means nothing more than a little angst regarding whether the bickering will stop and the games resume as usual come September.
For many ex-spouses and girlfriends of NFL players, though, it means something a bit more serious. It means very real concerns regarding child support payments and alimony. Under terms of their existing labor contracts, players are not currently being paid and will not receive a paycheck until games start in the fall. If they don’t, there will be no money incoming until a new agreement is reached. Moreover, the players’ out-of-pocket costs are rising on a number of things during the lockout, including health insurance, which obviously includes coverage for family members in many instances.
The average annual salary of a pro football player is $1.8 million, so income cuts to this comparatively pampered group are not likely to elicit sympathy in many people. Nonetheless, many players are not at that level and worry that they won’t have a job come September. At the advice of agents, they are lining up in large numbers to make modification requests to have their child support and alimony payments lowered to reflect what their reduced income will be in the event the NFL season is a bust.
Experts note that applying for modification far from guarantees that a court will grant a reduction, especially given the substantial assets often held by a professional athlete. A judge will take inventory of those assets — including investment accounts and real estate — in a modification ruling.
Related Resource: Bloomberg, “NFL Players Poised to Cut Alimony, Making Wives Industry Dispute Victims” May 8, 2011