Celebrities and athletes are not paid in the traditional way of a check every two weeks in the same amount. Rather, their compensation can drastically change depending on their talent and their most recent contract. This is one of the reasons why we see so many celebrities and athletes seeking to modify child support or alimony. A recent example of this is ex-NBA coach, Byron Scott, who was recently fired from his job as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. NBA's Byron Scott: I Can't Afford My Ex-Wife's Lifestyle…I'm Unemployed!!, by TMZ Staff, July 17, 2016, tmz.com.
Scott and his ex-wife of 29 years, Anita, divorced in 2014, right around the time Scott signed a $17 million contract with the Lakers. Accordingly, he was ordered to pay $26,000 per month in alimony. Since that time, Scott was fired by the Lakers and his financial situation changed drastically. His current income is $50,000/month as opposed to the $300,000/month he was making with the Lakers. In addition, Scott claims there is very little chance of him finding a new job until next year since all coaching spots have been filled. As such, he has asked the court "to cut off all spousal support payments…at least for now."
Under the circumstances, Scott is well within his rights to seek a modification of alimony due to his changed financial circumstances. He will likely receive some sort of downward modification. However, it is unlikely that the judge will completely cut off all spousal support payments. Even under his current, lower compensation, Scott is making $50,000/month. This is still a significant amount of income and alimony has been awarded in situations where the payor makes much less that this. In Georgia, in an alimony modification case, "the merits of whether a party is entitled to alimony are not an issue. The only issue is whether there has been such a substantial change in the income and financial status of either former spouse, in cases of permanent alimony for the support of a former spouse, as to warrant either a downward or upward revision or modification of the permanent alimony judgment." O.C.G.A. §19-6-20. As such, if this case were in Georgia, Anita would still get some amount of alimony, though it would be significantly less that what she was used to receiving. That being said, if/when Scott signs a new coaching contract, Anita may bring a new alimony modification action to increase the amount of alimony in line with his new contract.