Florida baseball fans may remember the start of a recent lawsuit involving Frank McCourt, the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a man was attacked in a Dodger Stadium parking lot, he filed suit against McCourt and the team for upwards of $36 million. As that lawsuit was coming to a close, however, McCourt remained involved in his 2012 divorce from his wife of nearly three decades, Jamie McCourt. The McCourts had entered into a divorce settlement agreement that stated that, if either member of the couple chose later to contest the terms of divorce, he or she would be responsible for the other’s court costs.
In the divorce, Jamie McCourt was awarded $131 million tax-free. She was also given ownership of several luxury homes that the couple owned together. However, she chose to challenge the divorce settlement, claiming that Frank had misrepresented the Dodgers’ value and thus shortchanged her in the division of assets. A judge denied her claims, and Jamie McCourt was ordered to reimburse Frank for the money he spent on attorney’s fees. The total cost amounted to $1.9 million.
Jamie’s attorneys challenged this ruling as well, arguing that almost $2 million is excessive for court costs. However, a judge examined the post-divorce agreement and found that it was valid and had been created with care and attention from both parties and their respective attorneys.
For those who are going through divorce and want to avoid the headache of post-settlement litigation, it may be worthwhile to consider creating an agreement similar to this one. If protection of assets is a priority, talking to a lawyer who has experience in high-asset divorce may be helpful.
Source: ABC News, “Judge Favors Frank McCourt in Divorce Fees Fight”, Anthony McCartney, June 26, 2014