When you are divorcing and you or your spouse are a professional athlete, your divorce is likely to involve unique considerations. Working with a skilled legal advocate with expertise in these issues is critical to ensuring you walk away from your marriage with a fair settlement.
Divorce for an athlete in Toronto is not just about dissolving a marriage. It is also about retaining a fair portion of your earnings, maintaining a good reputation, and creating an environment conducive to continued top performance. At The Riley Divorce & Family Law Firm, our divorce lawyers have the expertise to achieve these goals and is available day or night to address your concerns.
Unless you have a domestic athletic contract that states otherwise, divorcing couples in Toronto must equalize the financial benefit they receive from marriage. Each spouse calculates their net worth at the date of marriage and at separation, arriving at a figure that represents their net family property. The spouse with the higher net family property must split the difference with their partner through an equalization payment.
Athletes at the top of their profession could receive contracts worth millions. Often, much of this compensation is deferred until the future, and the person may need to provide services of an acceptable financial level before the sums can be paid out. An athlete who cannot play because of injury or who is cut for underperforming may never collect the promised compensation. Future payments contingent upon services the athlete performs after the separation date are generally not family property subject to equalization.
Depending upon the circumstances, a spouse could argue that the income an athlete receives after the divorce should be considered when awarding spousal support. Paul Riley could make a compelling argument for or against future contingent earnings influencing the amount and duration of spousal support.
Although equalization of the financial benefit of marriage is the standard, it might not always be appropriate. The law allows a spouse to claim that property division should deviate from the norm in some circumstances.
The Family Law Act s.5(6) permits a variance from a 50/50 split of net family property in some cases. When a marriage is of relatively short duration, equalizing the benefit may be unconscionable, especially when one spouse’s financial contributions to the marriage were substantially larger than the other’s. When a professional athlete divorces after being married for five years or less, a Toronto family law professional like Paul Riley could make a strong argument for a variance in the equalization payment.
Other factors could weigh in favor of a variance, including whether one spouse accrued excessive debt or spent marital funds improvidently. Adultery or other marital misconduct is not a justification for varying the equalization provision.
Individuals in the public eye like professional athletes are well-advised to develop a workable separation agreement before applying for divorce. A contested divorce filing is likely to attract public interest, which could have significant implications for the athlete.
Many professional sports contracts, endorsements, and licensing agreements contain morality clauses, allowing termination of the agreement if the athlete engages in certain behaviors. Even when the athlete is not bound by any such clause, allegations of substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual misconduct, and the like could damage their reputation and limit their earning opportunities.
Many couples could negotiate a separation agreement with the help of a collaborative divorce team or mediator, and doing so allows them to apply for a simple or uncontested divorce. When that option is unworkable for any reason, Paul Riley could work with the other person’s legal representation to arrive at an acceptable separation agreement. Keeping these private matters out of the public arena in Toronto could ease the stress of the divorce and allow an athlete to continue to perform at their best.
When you divorce, you need a lawyer who understands your needs and goals. This is critically important for athletes, whose income depends on being at their physical and mental best.
At The Riley Divorce & Family Law Firm, we understand the complexities of divorce for athletes in Toronto. We are available 24/7 to talk through your questions and are committed to helping you move forward with your life. Call us for a consultation today.
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