Going through a divorce or any type of relationship breakdown can be an incredibly stressful and challenging experience. This can have a significant impact on a person’s finances, lifestyle, and well-being, which can in turn affect their performance at work, particularly in high-pressure environments like professional sports.

In the case of professional athletes, disputes off the pitch can have a detrimental effect on their reputation and performance on the field. For example, Xpro, a charity set up for the welfare of ex-professional footballers, found that 33% of players get divorced within a year of retiring, and 75% are divorced by the time they turn 50 (according to PFA Scotland). This contrasts with the national average of 42% of marriages ending in divorce for the general UK population. Furthermore, it is estimated that 40% of ex-football players are declared bankrupt within five years of playing their last game. Therefore, safeguarding wealth and assets at an early stage is essential in any future financial planning.

These statistics highlight the importance of protecting one’s assets and income from claims brought by spouses and partners with whom they have had children. Elite athletes are rarely, if ever, advised on how best to protect their assets from a family law and relationship perspective. It is often the case that their commercial interests are taken care of, but their personal relationship interests are not considered, which can have disastrous financial and performance-related consequences.

By taking steps to protect wealth in the case of separation and divorce early on, athletes can be better prepared to maintain their focus and performance on the field despite the emotional and financial stressors associated with relationship breakdowns.

It is important to prioritise mental health and well-being, particularly during times of stress and change. By taking proactive measures, athletes and individuals undergoing relationship breakdowns or making everyday financial decisions with a partner can better prepare themselves in high-pressure environments, like professional sports.

If you are a sports agent who has a client going through a divorce or relationship breakdown, please contact Keystone Law’s family partner Richard Abrahams and solicitor Naomi Hatchard.

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.