Professional athletes who get divorced often face demands for extraordinarily high amounts of alimony or spousal maintenance. In some states, pro athletes have had to shell out $10,000 or more a month to their exes just to cover alimony, on top of millions in property and other assets.
If you are a professional athlete who is getting divorced in Texas, there’s good news. Unlike most other states, Texas law puts a cap on the amount of maintenance a court can order.
Under the Texas Family Code, spousal maintenance cannot be more than $5,000 per month or more than 20% of the spouse’s average monthly gross income, whichever is less.
How Does This Alimony Limit Benefit Athletes?
Let’s say you’re a pro athlete with a contract paying you $12 million a year. That’s basically $1 million a month. (You probably get paid more than $1 million a month during the season but don’t get paid during the offseason, so your $12 million annual salary works out to $1 million each month for purposes of alimony.)
The 20% rule would mean you must pay $200,000 in alimony, which is a huge chunk of your income. But thanks to Texas law, the judge can’t order you to pay any more than $5,000. The judge could order you to pay even less maintenance, depending on several factors.
Factors for Determining Spousal Maintenance in Texas
Texas law treats athletes the same as any other person when it comes to awarding alimony. First, every case starts with the presumption that spousal maintenance is not appropriate.
To get alimony, the requesting spouse must overcome this presumption by proving that they have made a good faith effort to earn their own income or to acquire the education or job training needed to become financially independent during the divorce process.
Assuming your spouse proves that they need maintenance, the judge will evaluate many factors to determine how much you will pay and for how long, including:
- Assets and income of each spouse
- Each spouse’s education, employment history and job skills
- How long you were married
- The age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
- Any child support obligations involved
- Any history or pattern of family violence
- Several additional factors
How Length of Marriage Affects Spousal Maintenance
The length of your marriage is a critical factor in awarding alimony. Generally, maintenance can only be awarded if your marriage lasted 10 years or more, but there are several important exceptions.
Contact Our Dallas-Area Pro Athlete Divorce Attorneys
Albin Oldner Law, PLLC, represents current and former athletes who played in the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS and other major sports leagues. We understand the unique issues you face. To arrange a confidential meeting with one of our attorneys in Frisco, Plano, or using Zoom, please call (214) 423-5100 or send us a message.