Professional athletes earn huge paychecks and have women throwing themselves at them day and night. While this may sound like a great life at the outset, life in the spotlight and plenty of available cash can land some pro athletes in a heap of trouble and spur on divorce rumors that make headlines. Just ask former Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton.
Hamilton’s recent drug relapse and a questionable future with the L.A. Angels combined with he and wife Katie’s current stint on the upcoming season of The Real Housewives of Orange County prompted tabloid rumors of a Hamilton divorce. Now those rumors appear to be true, as news recently broke that Josh Hamilton filed for divorce this past February.
According to Connatser Family Law Attorney Christine Powers Leatherberry, “More money, being in the public spotlight and constant rumors put added pressure and stress on celebrity marriages. Consequently, there are certain recommendations we typically share with professional athlete clients.”
Not Married Yet? Get a Prenup and Squash that Book Deal!
“If we represent a professional athlete who has not walked down the aisle yet, we strongly recommend he or she get a premarital agreement – or prenup,” Christine says. Premarital agreements allow both parties to put their expectations in writing so there are fewer surprises in the event of a divorce. Prenups can also dictate terms of confidentiality, which are usually a high priority for high-profile couples and their families.
One problem celebrities have to worry about, which average people typically do not, is book deals. “In Josh Hamilton’s case his wife Katie might want to write a book about his drug use and sordid details about their relationship after they split up. For this reason, we typically include a ‘book deal clause’ (which essentially is a penalty clause) in pro athlete and celebrity prenups,” Christine says.
The “book deal clause” typically says if the athlete’s wife (or ex-wife) wants to write a tell-all book, all of the proceeds from the book would go to the ex-husband. Adds Christine, “The wife can still write the book, but it won’t be of any financial benefit to her, which means she’ll be less likely to bother with it. We can also include ‘book deal clauses’ in divorce decrees.”
Getting Divorced? Take Steps to Keep It All Confidential
Celebrities often worry that details of their divorce will get out to the public. Fortunately, there are many steps Texas divorce attorneys can take to keep divorce details confidential.
According to Christine, “A family law attorney can file a motion to seal records of the divorce proceedings and decree. It’s also very important to include a confidentiality clause in the divorce decree in addition to sealing the file. Also, we often will have a confidentiality order put in place during the divorce negotiation process, to prevent details about the divorce from getting out to the public.” While the other party may oppose the confidentiality order, your attorney can bring the issue before the judge to decide.
“Texas judges are not required to approve confidentiality orders, but they usually will, especially if there are children involved. Also, some celebrities will ‘sweeten the deal’ by giving more spousal support or a bigger lump sum in exchange for the other party agreeing to a confidentiality agreement,” explains Christine.
Collaborative divorce can also be a good option for people who want to avoid the spotlight. Says Christine, “We sometimes recommend celebrity clients consider the collaborative divorce process, because it includes a higher degree of confidentiality than you find in a litigated divorce.”
Interested in learning more about collaborative divorce? Check out this recent post: Collaborative Divorce Is a Great Option (for Some) – 3 Scenarios Where You Should Think Twice
Looking for a Divorce Attorney? Avoid Camera-loving Narcissists
If you’ve ever watched a high-profile divorce play out on T.V., you’ve probably also seen attorneys who love getting on camera to talk about the divorce ad nauseam. Christine says, “It’s very important to find an attorney whose primary goal isn’t to be on camera but instead find a lawyer who will focus on keeping the divorce negotiations as confidential as possible.”
Reputable family law attorneys know how to keep their clients out of the spotlight. “In our firm, there are many occasions where we won’t even use the names of our celebrity clients (or their children) in the court records. We will use initials instead to help preserve confidentiality. Often the initials won’t make sense to outsiders, so it’s difficult for interested parties or the press to crack the code and figure out whom the records refer to,” explains Christine.
Don’t Want to Get Married, Ever? Get a Cohab
Some celebrity clients just don’t want to be married, period. Christine advises “in most cases, high-profile clients should enter into a cohabitation agreement with their partners instead. We often include a ‘we’re not-married clause’ in these agreements (where both parties agree to say that they are not married) to help deter and defeat future claims of common law marriage.”
Still, it’s very important that the couple avoids holding themselves out to be married in public, or they could be considered to be in a common law marriage in Texas. “My advice to professional athletes and celebrities in these situations is if you are not married, and you don’t want to be considered common law married, do not buy your significant other a ring or call that person your wife or husband,” Christine says.