Orlando, Fla. — A paternity suit seeking $100,000 per month, minimum, from Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera will be decided solely by Florida circuit court judge Alan S. Apte, it was determined during a Monday hearing at Orange County Courthouse.
Cabrera has two children outside his marriage: A 5-year-old boy and a girl who turns 3 in May. According to court documents, their mother, Belkis Mariela Rodriguez, who lives with the children in a $1 million home in Orlando that Cabrera helped finance, says Cabrera was paying $20,000 per month in child support and mortgage costs until he abruptly cut back last year in deference to his wife, who had filed for divorce and has since withdrawn the petition.
Cabrera, 34, is regarded as a Hall of Fame-bound superstar who next week begins his 11th season with the Tigers. He has three children by his wife, Rosangel, and has not contested court documents citing him as the father of Rodriguez’s son and daughter.
According to Rodriguez’s attorneys and court records, Cabrera began sending Rodriguez monthly checks of $5,000 following the birth of their son in 2013. Those payments later rose to $10,000, and then to $15,000 following the birth of the girl.
Cabrera helped purchase in 2016, by way of a 15-year mortgage, a new home for Rodriguez and the children and accordingly boosted his monthly support to $20,000. Additionally, in March 2016, he paid for a $9,000 trip to Europe for Rodriguez and the children, and 10 months later financed a $5,000 Disney cruise. He contributed as well to birthday parties for his son and daughter, and forwarded $5,000 per child for Christmas gifts. Court records say he also allowed $3,000 per month for travel and children’s visits with Cabrera.
But attorneys for Rodriguez say communication ceased last year and support was scaled back after Rosangel sued for divorce. Rodriguez and the children had moved into their newly built home last spring and, according to her attorneys, Cabrera wrote expanded $20,000 checks for April, May, and June, reflecting the heavy mortgage.
Then, attorneys and records say, Cabrera abruptly dropped the extra $5,000 per month “in order to appease his wife in an attempt to halt the divorce proceedings.”
Not coincidentally, Rodriguez’s lawyers state, divorce action did in fact cease as Cabrera ended all contact with Rodriguez and the children, going so far as to change his personal phone number.
Rodriguez took legal action against Cabrera in August seeking broader compensation, her attorneys say, “simply out of necessity as a result of her household expenses, including a mortgage payment (Cabrera) assisted and supported (Rodriguez) in securing,” expenses they insist Rodriguez “was and is unable to meet with the lower support payments now being provided.”
Rodriguez is represented by Terry C. Young and Crystal E. Buit of the firm Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed. Cabrera’s counsel is Benjamin T. Hodas of Fisher Potter Hodas, based in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Court records say Rodriguez and Cabrera, who appeared Monday at a temporary-relief hearing, will rely on Apte to make a final determination on support after they failed to resolve differences during two earlier full-day mediations.
Records also say Rodriguez allowed Rosangel Cabrera to attend each mediation session “even though she is not a party to this proceeding and has no legal right to be involved in this matter.” That decision, Rodriguez’s attorneys say, was a result of Rodriguez’s “desire to amicably settle this matter.”
Cabrera will earn $30 million in Tigers salary in 2018, as well as $30 million each year through 2021. He will make $32 million in 2022 and 2023. Should vesting options be triggered (top 10 in Most Valuable Player Award voting), Cabrera could earn another $30 million in 2024, when he turns 41, and another $30 million if the same MVP rider applies for 2025.
Rodriguez’s lawyers say Cabrera’s celebrity income is why a loftier monthly sum should be granted when he earlier, and voluntarily, paid $20,000 per month, and when the new home, and a lifestyle Cabrera authorized for his children, had been established.
Florida law says financial support should be 7.5 percent of a parent’s income when the parent earns more than $10,000 per year. Rodriguez is a florist whose total assets are “essentially non-existent,” her attorneys argue.
Absent adequate support from Cabrera, the lawyers say Rodriguez “is left with choices she should not be forced to take, such as sacrificing items for the children, or incurring late payments, or foreclosing on her mortgage.”
Furthermore, her attorneys state, Rodriguez is the “sole caregiver” for the children now that Cabrera has withdrawn from them “as a result of (Cabrera’s) wife filing for divorce last year and what are reasonably believed to be ultimatums presented.”
It has not been revealed by either party when precisely Cabrera and Rodriguez began their relationship.
Cabrera last season was dealing with back pain and disk issues and had a stunningly weak season with the Tigers, batting .249, with 16 home runs, and a flimsy .728 OPS. His career batting average is .317, his 15-year OPS is .948. In nine of his previous 15 big-league seasons, he hit at least 30 home runs.