Bears LB fighting for custody of child out of wedlock
Posted: Tuesday September 26, 2006 11:14AM; Updated: Tuesday September 26, 2006 3:23PM
Despite his off-field issues, Brian Urlacher remains one of the most productive linebackers in the NFL.
For the past six seasons, Brian Urlacher has been one of the most decorated linebackers in football. His on-field reputation has been impeccable, highlighted by his five trips to the Pro Bowl and last year's Defensive Player of the Year award. But his life away from the game hasn't always been as smooth.
When both his former wife and a woman with whom he had a one-night stand turned up pregnant early in the fall of 2004, the Chicago Bears linebacker decided to try some family planning. It worked for a while.
He moved back in with his ex-wife, Laurie, from whom he was divorced in 2004. Their second child, a girl, arrived on April 1, 2005. Seven weeks later, Tyna Robertson, with whom Urlacher had his fling, gave birth to a boy.
Urlacher, normally known as a defensive star, then went on the offensive. He hired one of Chicago's most formidable divorce lawyers, Donald Schiller, and sued Robertson, demanding a declaration of his paternity -- Urlacher knew he was the father of the boy and wanted that fact legally established -- as well as time to visit with the child and a determination of monetary support. A trial on custody and support has been scheduled for Oct. 16, the same day the Bears are slated to play a Monday-night game in Arizona.
It was an unexpected and clever move. It enabled Urlacher and Schiller not only to establish Urlacher's willingness to take responsibility for the child but also to choose the venue for the case: Will County Circuit Court in Joliet, Ill., which tends to award lower child-support payments than Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago.
The judge in Joliet, Ludwig Kuhar, ruled that $2,000 per month would be adequate support for the baby even though Urlacher is in the fourth year of a nine-year, $56.7 million contract. Urlacher's monthly income -- not including endorsements -- is nearly $330,000. The typical child-support level in Illinois is close to 20 percent of the father's monthly wage. The support awarded in Urlacher's case was less than one percent of his wage.
"There are thousands of men making millions less than Urlacher who are paying more than $2,000 per month in support," says one of Robertson's lawyers, Enrico Mirabelli.
Adds a Chicago divorce lawyer who has observed the aftershocks of the ruling, "Every day some guy is ordered to pay $2,500 or $3,000 in support, and he whines to the judge that he should not have to pay more than Brian Urlacher."
The next step in the Urlacher family plan was for Urlacher to obtain custody of his son and live together with Laurie and their two daughters. In a September 2005 petition to the court, Urlacher suggested that he should be the "primary residential parent" because he could provide a "stable home environment." He cited his experience "raising an infant child."