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Former NBA star struggles with illness, finances, child support

We often look toward professional athletes, movie stars and other highly paid celebrities with envy and imagine what we would do with all their wealth. They seem to have everything they want, without the everyday financial burdens the rest of us face. But in reality, sometimes those larger-than-life personalities have money problems to match.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is a prime example. As of the beginning of this month, the 51-year-old Hall of Famer owed nearly $809,000 in back child support for his 9- and 10-year-old children from his third marriage, according to court documents. He also had more than $51,000 in spousal support debt, not including attorney fees his ex is requesting. Her attorney says Rodman could be sent to jail for 20 days if he doesn't comply.

Rodman's attorney, however, said her client can barely afford his own basic living expenses. Calling him broke and "extremely sick" from alcoholism, the attorney said Rodman paid more in child support this year than he earned, requiring him to borrow money from his finance manager and his agent. In addition to the back child support and alimony from his third wife, he also owes $5,000 in support for a child from another relationship.

Where did all of that NBA money go? His retirement plan was liquidated to pay back taxes he owed to the state of California, and he still owes at least $100,000, according to his attorney. Not helping matters, she says, is his persistent drinking, which became worse after his third wife filed for divorce. It seems doubtful he'll ever be able to fully pay off his debts unless he finds new direction and a reliable source of income.

Although his debts may be extreme, Rodman's financial situation is similar to the plight of struggling parents in Texas and across the country. When child support payments begin to back up, it can seem impossible to dig out. And stress over debt often leads to poor choices that only create more problems. For child support debtors who find themselves sinking deeper into a hole, it may be time for a child support modification. A consultation with a divorce attorney is often a good first step toward digging out, making affordable payments and getting that much-needed fresh start.

Source: Daily Pilot, "Dennis Rodman faces jail time in O.C. court case," Lauren Williams, March 26, 2012

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