Related (and further to this post): at the Huffington Post, “Celebrity Divorce Attorney” Doug Kepanis explains how the lockout has affected some players’ child support and access visits. There are lessons here for anyone who suddenly finds him- or herself without a regular income:
When an NFL player is ordered to pay child support during his tenure as an active player, such support is commensurate with his high earner status. (The NFL league minimum salary in 2010 was $310,000.00 per annum). However, the average NFL player salary in 2010 hovers around the $1,000,000.00 per annum mark. During a lockout, however, there is no salary. This means that all of those child support orders or agreements, entered into while the NFL athlete was earning a considerable salary, become ripe for modification.
In most states, child support orders may be modified upon a showing of a “change in circumstances” or a “substantial change in circumstances”. [“Material change of circumstances” in Nova Scotia – DJP] When the salary of an NFL player, an average of almost $1,000,000.00 is reduced to zero through no fault of the player himself, as is the case of the lockout, this will surely qualify as a change in circumstances of substantial change in circumstances in almost every state.
There have been recent instances of players’ support check bouncing. Without a salary coming in, unless you are one of the superstar players in the NFL who get paid handsomely for endorsements, your support checks will soon bounce as well. Whether it is a temporary reduction in support or a more long-term reduction, when you have no income, you must seek to reduce your child support payments or risk losing your license, passport, or end up behind bars.
Moreover, if there is no NFL season, players may also seek to have their visitation with their child(ren) modified so that, while they are not traveling for six to eight months, they can enjoy watching their child(ren) grow up and be a more active parent in their lives.
Not all of these types of modifications require a trial in the courts. The parties can voluntarily agree to modify their child support and/or visitation agreements, execute them, and file them with the court. However, it must be stressed that each State has different child support and visitation laws and an attorney expert in this area of the law should be sought out for legal advice.
Considering how much money even the lowest-paid NFL players earn, I doubt a locked-out player would be ordered to pay no child support at all. Applying Canadian law, a lower level of income (and therefore support) would be imputed until the labour dispute is over, at which point the matter could be reviewed once again.