As the controversy over Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been hashing itself out this week, everyone is wondering what is going to happen next. Will the owner of the Clippers franchise be forced to sell his team due his recently publicized racist comments? Or will he find a way to successfully avoid a sale? According to USA Today, divorce could potentially be one strategy that the team owner could use to place a sale of the team in legal purgatory. The news publication reports that a divorce filing by either Sterling or his wife would likely put the whole process on hold due to the fact that the team would be considered marital property that would have to undergo property division.
The state of California is a "community property" state, which means that (in most cases) property obtained during the marriage is considered the shared property of both spouses and is subject to division upon divorce. Under California law, community property is typically split 50/50 in divorce, unless the spouses come to their own agreement of how they will divide the property and debt differently. Efforts to divide marital assets can get complicated when there are disputes over what is considered community property and what is considered separate property (which is eligible for division). There are also many other factors that can complicate or extend the legal process of dividing assets.
According to USA Today, the Clippers team is technically owned by a family trust, which includes Mrs. Sterling. One family law specialist who commented in the article said that in a situation like this, filing for divorce could get more people arguing over ownership of the team, which could in turn buy more time to avoid a forced sale. It also doesn't hurt that Sterling is a former divorce attorney—he is fully aware of how the system works and what the legal implications of divorce are. The public has yet to see if Sterling or his wife will file for divorce and how this would affect his particular situation.
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