Divorce Courts Now Deal With Disputes Over High School Athletics

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There are plenty of things to disagree about in a divorce case. Who gets the kids on major holidays? Where are we meeting to make the swap this weekend? In recent years, courts have been mediating a new type of dispute between divorcing spouses – should the children play high school sports?  Just as is the case with determining the custody of a minor child, Alabama courts will generally look to what they deem is in the best interests of the child. Of course, this is often subject to much debate.

Birmingham divorce attorneys often advise clients on Alabama law, but it is a moving target when it comes to certain high school athletic programs. In particular, recent studies on head injuries associated with high school and college football have led some to rethink the wisdom of letting children play.

Recent Disputes Over High School Football in Family Courts

One father in Pittsburgh is fighting to keep his son from being able to continue playing high school football. That father, according to the New York Times, believes that the risks are simply too great and therefore the teen should not be allowed to continue. On the other hand, the man’s ex-wife strongly supports their son continuing to play, despite the fact that the young man has had multiple concussions. It is a power struggle, in which both parents definitely have valid and understandable arguments.

As The Times explains, the mother feels like her son has a lot to gain from athletics. Meanwhile, the father feels that his son is jeopardizing long-term potential and well-being by continuing to risk his health. So, how can a court resolve this dispute?

Family Court Involvement in High School Sports

It is important for anyone going through this type of dispute to understand that no matter how much a teenager may express his or her wishes, ultimately the courts will presume that both parents are legally permitted to make these decisions on behalf of their minor children. So long as both parents can come to an agreement on these matters, a court is probably not going to be involved. Courts generally get involved when the parents cannot agree, but good lawyers can help to craft creative solutions to potential problems such as these in order to avoid unnecessary conflict and related expense.

Risks Associated With High School Football

The links between high school football and head injuries have only begun to be explored through research, but one study suggests that high school football players are nearly twice as likely to suffer a concussion as their college counterparts. The study, according to Frontline, also suggests a potential link between repeated head injuries and a number of conditions. For instance, retired NFL players tend to have a far higher average rate of conditions, such as clinical depression, suicidal ideation, Alzheimer’s disease, and traumatic encephalopathy. Frontline is careful to point out that there has been no clear or definitive link proven to date, but the research certainly does reveal a burgeoning crisis, especially among younger athletes – namely high school football players.

What to do if You And Your Ex can Not Agree About High School Sports for Your Child?

In almost all cases, you are better off if you can reach an agreement about what is best for your children. The last thing you want to do is give teenagers a reason to drive an emotional wedge between you and your ex. Instead, you should work closely with your attorney to reach an agreement. Ultimately, you should discuss your concerns with an experienced Birmingham family law attorney. Five Points Law Group can help with even the most difficult family law disputes. Call (205) 263-0743 to speak with an attorney about your case today.


Heather Fann
Heather Fann
Heather's practice seeks to preserve the dignity of clients through healthy paths for their changing families, employing both modern and traditional means of resolution including collaborative practice and methods such as use of Parenting Coordinators, as well as mediation, though she stands ready to litigate where necessary.

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