The impending National Football League lockout may have consequences reaching beyond the impact on football players, teams and fans. If the NFL players, whose annual income averages about $1.8 million, find themselves out of work, many players who have child support and alimony obligations may be able to reduce their payments or stop paying entirely.

This situation will only happen if the NFL executives and players' union cannot reach a collective bargaining agreement by the beginning of the coming season. The National Basketball Association is likely to face a similar predicament when its player contract expires on June 30.

Already, many football and basketball players have applied for alimony and child support modifications in California and throughout the country. If the petitions are approved by the court, the amounts that players' ex-wives and children receive will decrease significantly in accordance with the decrease in the players' income. Because the expenses in raising a child or maintaining a life will certainly not change, any potential reduction in child and spousal support will likely place many players' ex-wives and children in dire financial situations.

It is not only the loss of a NFL or NBA paycheck that will hurt the ex-wives and children. Many of the athletes provide health insurance, subsidized by their teams, for their children, and often for their ex-wives as well. During a league lockout, the teams do not pay their portion of health insurance premiums, causing the athletes' out of pocket expenses to increase significantly and potentially motivating them to stop paying for health insurance altogether.

Source: Bloomberg, "NFL Players Poised to Cut Alimony, Making Wives Industry Dispute Victims," Scott Soshnick, 8 May 2011