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NFL wives: taking lumps has its alimony advantages

NFL players aren't the only ones on pins and needles about the current labor dispute with NFL owners. Some ex-wives of NFL players are also worried that the National Football League team owners and the representing unions will stay deadlocked too long in the labor spat. If labor negotiations aren't resolved soon, athletes won't get paid in September -- and some players' ex-wives may not get their alimony payments on time.

Many of the athletes involved have been filing for alimony modifications, and it is entirely at a family court's discretion whether to allow a reduction or increase in spousal maintenance or support. In the case of NFL ex-wives, many of whom are dependent on their ex-husbands' multi-million dollar paychecks, a judge's ruling could significantly impact their lifestyles.

Ex-NFL spouses who have received lump sums may be better off than those with alimony orders where they are paid monthly. Standard alimony is usually paid monthly for a specific length of time, subject to certain conditions. Sometimes regular alimony is only paid until an ex remarries or lives with someone new, or until the death of the ex-spouse. It is also subject to any great financial changes on either side of the divorce equation.

A one-time-only, lump-sum settlement only has to be equitable considering the financial conditions of the ex-spouses at the time of divorce. There is no future debate about living arrangements or death, and virtually no chance that the final settlement will later be modified in court.

For a lump-sum award of spousal support to work, an ex-spouse must be able to manage the single award wisely over the long-term. With good financial advice, however, lump sum agreements can assist with a divorcing spouses expenses without a long-term monthly obligation on the part of the other divorcing spouse, or the threat of having to return to court if circumstances change substantially.

Source: Forbes, "Upfront Lump Sum Payment or Alimony? Why Some NFL Ex-Wives Are Now Smiling," Jeff Landers, June 1, 2011

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