CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Houston woman claims Carolina Panthers wideout Brandon LaFell owes her thousands of dollars in unpaid child support, according to her lawyer.
The attorney for Ashley Walker has petitioned the Mecklenburg County court to enforce a child support judgment made by a Texas court in February.
In the petition, filed Nov. 29, Walker includes a temporary Texas court order from February stating that LaFell is obligated to pay $4,000 a month in support of their son, Liam LaFell, who will turn 2 in January.
Brian Overstreet, LaFell’s agent, called the filing “frivolous” and said in a statement that Walker and her attorney, Sonya Chandler Anderson, were trying to “harass and exploit Mr. LaFell’s status and celebrity.”
Overstreet said Harris County (Texas) District Court Judge Denise Pratt, during a hearing last summer, dropped LaFell’s monthly child support payment from $4,000 to $1,500, the maximum allowed for one child in Texas. Chandler Anderson said Pratt never signed a modified order.
The $4,000 amount set in the temporary order was based on Chandler Anderson’s claim that Walker faced extenuating circumstances as the sole care provider for the child, whom Chandler Anderson said has unspecified health issues.
“I hate that we had to come all the way to Carolina to collect on the child support,” Chandler Anderson said in a phone interview this week. “The greatest unfairness to me is he’s not complying to a court order.”
LaFell, who grew up in Houston, lives with a woman in Charlotte and their two children. He said last week he believes he is satisfying his child support obligations to Walker and Liam LaFell.
Walker, 28, owns and operates a prenatal ultrasound clinic in Houston.
“I work. I take care of him. It's not like I'm seeking all this money for him,” Walker said Wednesday. “I just need for him to do his part and act like he has another child. Do your part and be a father.”
According to the Harris County District Court web site, LaFell made two payments of $4,000, in February and April. Since June, LaFell has made monthly payments averaging $1,500 – for a total of $17,000.
Based on a $4,000-a-month payment, Chandler Anderson said LaFell should have paid $40,000 through November – a difference of $23,000.
But Overstreet said LaFell has been paying the $1,500 amount Pratt directed him to pay until the case goes to trial in February.
“He’s never missed a payment,” Overstreet said in a phone interview. “The law specifically speaks to what she is entitled to receive. It clearly spells out what he is required to do, which he has done to the fullest.”
Chandler Anderson also lists the Panthers in the petition, along with a Texas court order requiring the team to withhold $4,000 a month from LaFell’s paycheck.
NFL players are paid weekly over the course of the 17-week regular season. Chandler Anderson said the Panthers have yet to withhold any child support money from LaFell’s check.
“They said they were waiting for the season to start, that the actual pay started in August,” Chandler Anderson said. “The season’s about to be over with.”
The Panthers declined to comment on the petition. Overstreet said he does not believe the Panthers have to comply with an order from an out-of-state court.
“It's not right,” Walker said. “The Panthers got the wage withholding form for $4,000. And also, his lawyer never got the $1,500 order signed. So that order doesn't exist.”
Chandler Anderson also is seeking $5,000 in attorney fees from LaFell.
LaFell is making $540,000 this season, in the third year of his four-year rookie deal. He is the Panthers’ third-leading receiver, but missed last week’s game against Atlanta with turf toe and did not practice Wednesday.
In his statement, Overstreet said LaFell is dedicated to all his children, including Liam LaFell.
“He continues to pay his child support and seek an amicable relationship with the plaintiff for the benefit of their child,” Overstreet said.