Las Vegas Sun

November 22, 2014

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Court reverses ruling reducing NBA player’s child support payments

CARSON CITY — The Nevada Supreme Court has reversed a ruling that allowed professional basketball player Joe Smith to reduce his child support payments from $10,339 a month to $968 a month.

The court said Clark County District Judge Lisa M. Kent adopted a “faulty approach” by failing to require Smith to show whether there were changed circumstances and if the best interest of the child warranted modification.

Smith and Brenda L. Thompson had a son in 1996. Smith, who has played for 11 NBA teams and is now with the New Jersey Nets, earned $413,045 per month and had a net worth in 2008 of $7.5 million, according to court documents.

The child support payments were ordered by a California court, and Thompson moved to Las Vegas for a short time. Smith filed his motion in Family Court in Las Vegas. Thompson moved back to California.

The District Court initially dismissed the action on grounds neither Smith nor Thompson were Nevada residents.

But the Supreme Court in 2007 ruled the court in Las Vegas had jurisdiction.

In the ruling issued Friday, the Supreme Court said Kent failed to make any finding as to whether the circumstances of the parties had changed or whether the modification was in the child’s best interest.

The court said there must be substantial evidence to show that the reduced child support was warranted.

“This requirement exists to prevent parties from filing immediate, repetitive, serious motions until the right circumstances or the right judge allows them to achieve a different result, based on essentially the same facts as the original child support order,” the court said in sending the case back to Kent.

The court rejected the arguments of Smith that he did not have to show changed circumstances because it has been more than three years since the entry of the initial support order.

The court also said the rules on child support apply in Nevada, even though the initial support order was issued in California.

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