Legal Matters

Ex-NFL’er Early Doucet wins reduced support payments

Now back at LSU as a full-time student, Doucet successfully appealed a $7,500-per-month child support order imposed by a St. Martin Parish Judge.

At the height of his professional football career with the Arizona Cardinals, former St. Martinville High and LSU standout receiver Early Doucet was pulling down a little more than $166,000 per month in salary. Released by the Cardinals following the 2012 season and now back at LSU full-time as a student, Doucet successfully appealed a $7,500-per-month child support order imposed by a St. Martin Parish Judge.

Doucet, 29, fathered a now 10-year-old child with an ex-girlfriend during his senior year of high school. After he was drafted in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft and started earning NFL money following a successful four-year career at LSU, the ex-girlfriend sought child support in the 16th Judicial District. She and Doucet reached an agreement for $3,000 per month in child support for the boy, but in May of 2012, two months after Doucet was released by the Cardinals following a string of injuries, the ex sought and was granted by a St. Martin judge $7,500 per month in support payments.

In June 2013 Doucet, by then a full-time student at LSU working toward completing his bachelor’s degree and planning on seeking a master’s degree in anticipation of a career in coaching, sought to reduce that $7,500/month payment, arguing that he was “no longer under contract by an NFL team and is currently unemployed.” A judge denied the request by Doucet, who appealed to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal. The appellate court released an opinion Oct. 6 siding with Doucet. Judge Jimmy Genovese, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, had few kind words to say about the earlier ruling of District Judge Charles Porter in St. Martin Parish:

The trial court abused its discretion in maintaining Mr. Doucet’s child support obligation at the same level upon which it was previously set based on his highest earnings when he was a professional football player. Mr. Doucet no longer earns $166,000.00 per month, and has no earned income. He has legally proved a material change in circumstances warranting a reduction in child support from the prior $7,500.00 per month award. Therefore, the October 8, 2014 judgment denying Mr. Doucet’s rule for reduction in child support is reversed.

The 3rd Circuit remanded the case to district court for a determination on a fair support-payment system for Doucet the college student.

Read the full opinion here.