Lawyers: Sterling Could Delay Sale of Team by Divorcing Wife

Lawyers: Sterling Could Delay Sale of Team by Divorcing Wife

Donald Sterling has been estranged from his wife Rochelle, but he could presumably divorce her to delay the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers if the NBA owners force him to sell the team after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned him for life on Tuesday. 

Should he divorce his wife, the team would be put “under the jurisdiction of a California family court as the Sterlings divide their community property. That process could be complicated as the team is owned by a family trust, which includes Sterling’s wife.”

“If somebody is looking for a litigation strategy, and they want to slow down a forced sale by the league, you file for divorce so you get more people involved arguing over it,” said Sharon Kalemkiarian, a family law specialist in San Diego, told USA Today. “Everybody’s got to spend more money trying to figure out what happens to it. Getting the family court involved in it would create another layer of complexity to the sale and another set of lawyers who would be trying stop it from getting sold.

Elbert Robertson, a law professor at Suffolk University, said there are two other lines of attack agains the NBA, according to USA Today: 

• Challenging the NBA’s authority to force a sale of his property just because of personal opinions he shared in a conversation he thought was private. This could be a breach-of-contract because the reason for his ouster arguably doesn’t follow league bylaws.

• Filing an antitrust suit against the league, arguing that a forced sale of his team in this circumstance is an illegal restraint of trade that could make him accept a below-market price.