NBA athletes & Divorce: An important primer


Filed in Divorce News: With the recent announcement that NBA star Tony Parker and his lovely bride Eva Longoria are divorcing, it seemed apropos to raise the issue of divorce in the context of the NBA. Like the NFL, the divorce rate for NBA players is incredibly high. While there is no known data that compares the divorce rates of NBA v. NFL players chances are good that the rates are comparable to the NFL. Both these groups of athletes seem to have a tough time hanging on to their marriages. Why is that? Perhaps it’s all the traveling that takes them from city to city on a regular basis so they don’t get to spend enough time with their spouses. In addition, while on the road, they are flooded with temptation in the form of groupies and home-wreckers on the prowl for a baby daddy/sugar daddy. Then when you throw money into the mix, as one famed divorce lawyer in New York once said, “it can be a lethal brew.”
While not every NBA athlete makes loads of cash, a great percentage of them sign multi-year multi-million dollar contracts with their teams. If they are half as lucky as Michael Jordan, they also sign lucrative endorsement deals with sneaker companies like Puma, Adidas and Nike as well. Some are business savvy and get involved in buying real estate or starting restaurants, or clothing lines. Some get movie deals and do commercials for cereals, soaps and foot cremes. These endorsement deals can add up to even more than the basketball contracts. And all of this is potentially marital property when they divorce.
Obviously, a prenup is a must. Tony Parker, who is rumored to have signed a $50 million deal with the Spurs just last year, is said to have a prenup with soon to be ex wife Eva. She makes good money with Desperate Housewives, but is unlikely to make as much as $50 million in five years for her role in the show. Thus, even though she signed a prenup, she requested spousal support in her divorce petition. Only time will tell what a judge would decide she is entitled to and a lot of that will depend on the terms of the prenup and whether the prenup is held valid. (actually, they apparently amended the prenup after marriage turning it into a post nup but whatever it is, she may be entitled to spousal support even though she makes good money on her job.)
The most important thing for NBA athletes is to have a iron clad prenup drawn up that defies challenge in court. That means making sure enough time elapses between the signing of the prenup and the marriage. Absolutely insist that each party has independent counsel. Disclose all assets (or get a waiver). Don’t enter into post-nups if you’ve already signed a prenup since post nups enjoy greater scrutiny that prenups (disclosure cannot be waived) and be sure the prenup selects a venue clause, as some jurisdictions are more favorable than others.