Professional Athletes and Support Awards Two recent high profile support cases involving professional athletes have highlighted how the courts deal with high income earners. National Hockey League star Duncan Keith recently had a British Columbia Court throw out his ex-wife’s claim for $150,000 in monthly interim support. Kelly Keith had sought a massive spousal support award along with $69,000 per month in child support to care for the parties son. Duncan had argued that any entitlement and need for support would be satisfied with a payment of $15,000 in spousal support and $10,000 in child support. The NHL star earned $9 million annually and the parties had been together since they were teenagers and Kelly Keith had moved to Chicago to be with the NHL star. She was not able to work in the United States and ran a charity in the NHL star’s name. B.C Supreme Court Justice George MacIntosh ruled that the child support claim was “disproportionately high” and ordered that he pay $15,000 per month in child support. He also ordered that the NHL star pay $45,000 per month in spousal support. Justice MacIntosh held that $45,000 was “adequate” in addressing the economic hardship and disadvantages that resulted to Kelly Keith as a result of the split. Duncan Keith was also required to pay the mortgage and expenses for the couple’s BC home where Kelly Keith resided. The mortgage and associated expenses were about $10,000 per month.

In total, $15K in child support + $45K in spousal support + $10K in mortgage expenses = $70K per month.

NHL stars are not alone. Former Toronto Raptor Amir Johnson recently dealt with a child support application by a former partner. The applicant (mother) is a community college student and the parties share a two-year old daughter. The mother alleges the parties were in a relationship for 18 months. Johnson, refutes the mother’s position, he alleges that she was a casual girlfriend and they did not reside together. The mother brought an application for child support and spousal/partner support.

Johnson, who now plays for the Boston Celtics earns approximately $15 million CDN per year. The presumptive amount of child support under the Federal Child Support Guidelines for this income is a payment of $116,000 per month. Counsel for the mother proposed a payment of $50,000 per month for child support. The creative rational for the number of $50,000 was that Johnson’s career would be short lived and the mother would need to save approximately $40,000 from each payment to provide for the child at a later date. An interesting argument, however, one that may not hold water in light of the Ontario Court of Appeal decision of Simon v. Simon. It may be a good idea to place funds in a savings account for the future, but the courts have not moved in that direction.

The mother also argued that she need a significant child support award so that she could buy an expensive home and provide the child with the very best educational and other activities. Johnson proposed $28,000 per month as an interim award for child support pending a final determination. He argued that this amount was sufficient to take care of all of the child’s needs. The mother had set out a budget of $83,000 per month.

The Judge hearing the matter agreed with the number of $28,000 proposed by Johnson and made no ruling on the issue of spousal/partner support because of the conflicting evidence before the court and the Judge’s view that the mother had not made a clear and compelling case of entitlement to spousal/partner support.