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Pro-athlete lockouts kickstart support modifications

If members of the National Basketball Association get locked out from their jobs in June, reduced pro-ball incomes will be a harsh reality until the unions and team owners come to terms. Mindful of fragile big-money budgets, players' agents and lawyers are persuading their clients to seek court order modifications.

Modification for the court-ordered child support and alimony payments players make to ex-wives and for the care of biological children are necessary, according to celebrity divorce lawyers. They claim the NFL and NBA are industries like any other and, when players don't get paid, financial adjustments are unavoidable.

NBA players have a union-produced booklet of hints to get through lean financial times, including strategies devoted to dealing with child support and spousal support issues. One former NBA player, experienced with divorce and support issues, estimated that 80 percent of star athletes are financially obligated in some way to a support court order.

The financial trickle-down from the player lockouts makes sports players' legal advisors a little nervous. When players don't get paid, the fallout affects their pay, too. One experienced agent said a previous lockout forced him to ask for support modifications, which is part of the reason why he is pushing highly-paid athletes so hard about the issue.

While some players have money so well managed by professionals that support modifications may be inconsequential over the short-term, other players spend freely without thinking of the effects a large loss of income could make. Agents not only recommend court modifications now, but also advise players to sign prenuptial agreements that can help control money issues in emergencies like lockouts.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "NBA, NFL players' ex-wives likely to feel pinch," Scott Soshnick, 10 May 2011

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