Football great Michael Strahan has been granted a Giant relief. A New Jersey state appeals court has ruled that he didn't have to pay $18,000 a month in child support of his 3-year-old twin daughters as part of his divorce settlement with his ex-wife, Jean.
But Jean isn't going to be shopping at the Dollar Store any time soon. In their bitter divorce, where nasty accusations flew like fumbling footballs, she caught a $15.3 million settlement, slightly more than what was specified in their prenuptial agreement. Strahan paid around half of that, and they recently settled a dispute over the remaining $6.5 million.
The court sent the child support case back to a lower court in Essex County and ordered it to recalculate the amount. Judge Lorraine Parker, one of the three judges involved in the decision, wrote, “Both parents have a shared obligation to support their children.”
In the decision, Judge Parker said that “as a healthy, educated, 41-year-old, [Jean Strahan] is capable of earning her own income.”
Perhaps Jean Strahan overstepped when she made certain claims for her daughters’ expenses, including $30,000 a year for landscaping, designer handbags, and $22,000 for baby pictures.
The three-judge panel also ruled that Strahan doesn’t need to pay for his wife’s lawyers, nor does he need to get a multi-million dollar disability policy.
Strahan announced yesterday that he has not accepted a request from the Giants to return to the team. Vacationing in Greece, he said he preferred to stay retired. It would have been his 16th season of professional football.
His salary would have been $8 million a year.
Instead he will receive a $2 million salary working for Fox Sports pregame Sunday show covering the National Football League.
In New Jersey, child support is calculated based on net combined income of the parents. Net income is, generally speaking, gross income for both, minus income taxes, mandatory union dues, mandatory retirement, other support orders, etc. One New Jersey statute notes that “as income increases, total family consumption spending (e.g. for goods and services) declines as a proportion of net income…”
The statute also notes that “if the combined net income of the parents is more than $187,200 per year, the court shall apply the guidelines up to $187,200,” award at least the minimum amount at that income level, and then supplement that according to other factors.
But the statute warns that “the court shall not extrapolate the Appendix IX-F schedules … beyond the dollar limit.”
The amount in Appendix IX-F shows that for a weekly net combined income of $3,600, the child support for two children would be around 17 percent, or $606 a week.
That comes to $2,424 a month, not the $18,000 a month he was initially ordered to pay.
It is increasingly common for judges to put caps on child support if a parent earns millions of dollars. Courts look more and more at what is "reasonable," especially considering that sports figures earn their millions for only a short period of time.
Jean Strahan will now move on something much tougher than the divorce proceedings: Raising those two young daughters in a rational and respectful relationship with her ex-husband and their father… with or without the children’s designer handbags.