Can Jamie McCourt set aside her divorce settlement?
Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is either a very lucky son of a gun or is a scoundrel. Which is it? We don’t know. But I would wager that his ex wife Jamie McCourt thinks it is the latter. The McCourts’ divorce was finalized in 2011 with Jamie receiving approximately $130 million according to published reports. It seems that at the time there were representations that the Dodgers team, the biggest asset that was jointly owned by the couple, was in financial trouble. There was even a bankruptcy filing, though the specifics of that action is beyond the scope of this post. Suffice to say that a couple of months back, Frank McCourt sold the Dodgers for a staggering $2 billion dollars in May – just 3 years after the divorce. Of course, as sole owner post-divorce, Mr McCourt gets to pocket all the loot. Is this fair play and substantial justice? Not according to Mrs. McCourt. She is crying foul all the way back to court for a “set aside” based on fraud or mistake. Is it a unilateral mistake or a mutual mistake? We don’t know yet. But a mistake, que meme. ooh la la….
An excerpt from the Associated Press:
LOS ANGELES (AP)
The ex-wife of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has filed a motion to set aside the couple’s divorce settlement, claiming he committed fraud by vastly understating the team’s value.Jamie McCourt’s attorney, Bertram Fields, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she ”thought very long and very hard about whether to file this motion” but after other means failed she was forced to return to court over the value of the team that sold for $2 billion in May.
”Mr. McCourt got about 93 percent of the family assets, and Mrs. McCourt got about 7 percent,” Fields said in a phone interview. ”We would’ve much preferred to have this massive imbalance resolved with some modification, but we got no response to that approach. We didn’t want to have more family litigation, but now it’s up to the court.”
But even assuming there was a mutual mistake or even fraud, can Mrs McCourt set aside the settlement? It depends more than likely on the language used in the settlement. Did the lawyers leave wiggle room to reopen in the event of changed circumstances? Anything going to the issue of fraud or concealment? Did she waive all future rights in sweeping language that obviâtes her ability to go back and ask for more? Was there actual fraud and misrepresentation? Was the divorce settelment agreement incorporated into or merged into the judgment of divorce? If the former, she might be able to go on a breach of contract argument. If the latter, harder situation – especially if the statute of limitations for a challange has run.
Did Mr McCourt know at the time of the settlement that the team was worth $2 billion dollars? Did Jamie’s lawyers perform their due diligence during the discovery process? There are so many questions, so many factors that could tip the scales in this situation. But stand by till November for an update. This apparently is when the case for a set aside will be heard in California Superior Court.
Read more on setting aside a divorce judgment here http://www.divorcesaloon.com/2014/06/18/how-to-re-open-a-divorce-case-set-aside-divorce-judgment-due-to-fraud-and-perjury-after-the-statue-of-limitations-has-run/