Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Fights Over Football in Family Court

From the New York Times:

A father, John Orsini, has gone to court to prevent the youngest of his three sons from playing high school football because, he said, scientific studies have revealed the perils of repeated blows to the head — especially for an athlete, like his son, who has a history of concussions. The boy’s mother, Mr. Orsini’s ex-wife, believes he should be allowed to continue playing because he understands the risks.

“You always heard it sometimes, when one parent would say I don’t want him doing that because he might get hurt,” said Allan E. Mayefsky, a leading divorce lawyer and the former president of the New York chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “Usually, we thought the parent was just overprotective. Now, it’s more of a real medical issue.”

In the decade since scientists began to link football to long-term brain damage, the debate over the future of the sport has moved from research laboratories to the halls of Congress, to locker rooms and owners’ suites. Families, too, have grappled with the question of how dangerous the game is — and now parents’ concerns are surfacing in legal battles between divorced couples, leading to an increase in fights over whether to amend custody orders to prevent their children from playing the game.

It is impossible to say precisely how many disputes over football are occurring in family courts. Most records are sealed and disputes often settle before they go to trial. But Joe Cordell, the founder of Cordell & Cordell, which specializes in divorce law, said that about a third of the 270 lawyers at his firm, which is spread across 40 states, said that they have seen an increase in custody battles over whether a child should be allowed to play football. In some parts of the country, football has replaced hockey as the sport at the center of custody battles, other lawyers said.

Read more here.

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