LOS ANGELES: Will Frank and Jamie McCourt's divorce battle destroy the Dodgers

Today’s Los Angeles Times reports that Frank and Jamie McCourt are still doing combat over the purported billions in assets to be distributed when they divorce. More immediately, however, Jamie’s lawyers are battling for her to get about $1,000,000 per week in alimony…wait a second, that can’t be right….it must be per month….hang on…..ok. That was incorrect. It is one million per month or $250,000 per week, making her the most expensive divorcee ever recorded on this blog and possibly in America California thus far. We almost had a conniption when what’s her face asked for $300,000 per month? Jacqueline Getty. Now Jamie McCourt tops that by far. Jamie McCourt wants $1 million per month. OMG that’s a T-Shirt! That’s a frickin T-shirt!
WHAT ARE THE LEGAL ISSUES HERE?
From a legal perspective, what is really going on with this case? I have not been following it and it is hard to as I am away from my office and am blogging by proxy with over-grown finger nails that make it very difficult to type (so forgive my typos.)  In any event, what I’ve picked up so far (I can’t believe we haven’t been following this case more closely!) is that Jamie and Frank are fighting over whether the Dodgers baseball(?) team is “community property” or whether it is “separate property.” Plus, Frank, who has reportedly fired Jamie as CEO, doesn’t seem to think that their protracted divorce will negatively impact the Team’s bottom line.  Says the Los Angeles Times:

Frank McCourt, whose management team is running the Dodgers after he fired his wife as the team’s chief executive in October, said he believes the Dodgers can thrive this season, even with the very ownership of the team at stake. “I can’t say it has no impact whatsoever, because we’re talking about it,” McCourt said. “I really think it has a very minimal impact on things and substantially no impact on what we’re doing in the organization. Obviously, I wish the distraction wasn’t here.” Jamie McCourt’s lawyers argue her estranged husband has used “blatant balance sheet manipulations” so as to “mislead the court” about his net worth. Frank McCourt’s lawyers call those contentions “absurd.”

ANCILLARY CONCERNS
Hme. So it is not just ownership of the Dodgers and whether it is community property vs. separate property but also whether Frank, like a few high networth spouses lately, is committing fraud by saying he’s either broke or considerably less affluent than he is, in order to circumvent the law and in order to rob Jamie of her just marital share of their vast wealth.
IS JAMIE MCCOURT ENTITLED TO 50/50 of the Dodgers?
Hme…California is a community property state. The McCourts have been married since whappee killed phillip – that’s about 30 years in the McCourt’s case. That’s a long marriage by any definition. Normally, anything they own would be community property and 50/50 after this many years under California law. But there seems to have been some sort of post nup. Which changes the landscape tremendously, if it is upheld and if it is enforceable. If she signed off on papers to say otherwise, Jamie would probably not be entitled to 50/50 and she also may never be instated as the Team’s chief executive.
IS THE POST NUP ENFORCEABLE?
Time will tell. Post nups like prenups are normally upheld if they are entered into without duress, coercion and fraud. The bigger question is, after such a long marriage, what would possess Jamie to have signed such an agreement in the first place? And you have to ask yourself what reason Frank would have had even to ask her to sign to begin with. What was going through his mind at the time, given they had already been married so long? Both of them must have felt the marriage was broken by this time.
IS JAMIE ENTITLED TO $1,000,000 SPOUSAL SUPPORT PER MONTH
Jamie is entitled to spousal support that would enable her to live at the marital standard of living, pending the adjudication of her divorce from Frank. If it was $1,000,000, then she should get $1,000,000. I think it’s a lot. I can’t fathom that kind of money. But that is irrelevant. The test is not whether outsiders think it is a lot. The test is what was their marital standard of living? And if that is $1,000,000 per month, the court should order that pendente lite. Mr. McCourt argues that his wife has the means to take care of herself. That could be an issue.  If both spouses are equally monied, then it is unlikely that the court would need to balance the equities of the parties (since it is already balanced) but it is unclear what Frank is basing his statement that his wife “can take care of herself” on. There is some suggestion that she came to the marriage with money – more even than he had – and that it was her parents who initially lent Frank money for his business ventures. If, however, Frank is able to live more comfortably than Jamie due to his wealth at this time in their marriage, he will likely be ordered to pay her support while they hash out the divorce.
COULD FRANK BE COMMITTING FRAUD?
Well, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a husband tried to go bust to avoid paying his wife. At least, Frank is no Denny Hecker (Minnesota) or Scot Young (UK). Both these guys face jail for suddenly going mysteriously bust just when it was time to divorce and pay their wives a fair share of the marital assets. It doesn’t appear yet that Frank McCourt is saying he’s broke. It’s more like he’s saying he’s not worth the $1.2 billion that Jamie says he owns.
Well, hopefully all this back and forth won’t wreck the team. This can’t be great for morale….I wonder if they will sell the team? Better yet, I wonder if they will be forced to?
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