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Atlanta Falcons owner and wife announce separation

According to a statement from Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, he and his wife, Stephanie, have separated. Although the couple has not yet announced whether they plan to seek a divorce, Falcons fans are already wondering whether the split will be similar to one the most newsmaking high-asset divorces in professional sports: that of Frank and Jamie McCourt, the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Potentially anticipating that speculation, the Blanks' statement expressly noted that the separation will have "no impact" on any of their business holdings, separate or jointly. Randy Kessler, the chairman of the American Bar Association's Family Law section, says that the Blanks' statement is probably true.

"I don't think it'll be anything like the McCourts. The reason you're hearing so much about the McCourts' divorce is because it's so rare," he said, citing the botched prenuptial agreement as one example of the rarity of the McCourts' situation. "The Blanks are smart so I expect they won't let their lawyers take this to court."

Arthur Blanks is the founder of Home Depot. He purchased the Atlanta Falcons for $545 million in 2001 after the former owners also went through a highly-publicized divorce. The Blanks are also dedicated to supporting philanthropies throughout the Atlanta effort, which they say will continue. According to their statement, they plan to remain "as committed as ever to their various charitable enterprises."

Arthur and Stephanie Blanks were married in 1995. They have three school-age children together, and they have asked the media to respect their privacy and that of their children as they determine their next step.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Expert: Blanks separation unlikely to impact Falcons," Christian Boone, Sept. 2, 2011

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