One thing just leads to another, it seems, when it comes to the Frank and Jamie McCourt divorce and property settlement case. Earlier this week, the California judge handling the case issued a decision regarding the post-nuptial agreement the couple entered into when Frank purchased the Dodgers. In the 100-page decision, the judge lists a number of problems with the post-nup before ordering that the agreement not be taken into consideration in the property settlement.
As we discussed in our September 29, 2010 post, the McCourts signed several copies of a post-nuptial agreement after they purchased the Dodgers. The agreements they signed, however, weren’t identical, differing in the most critical aspect: only three gave Frank McCourt ownership of the baseball team, as personal property. It’s a California case, so the stakes are high: It’s a community property state, so anything acquired during the marriage is divided equally in a divorce.
According to the ruling, the confusion regarding the agreement and its contents indicated that there was no mutual understanding about its contents when the McCourts signed it. The judge said that the McCourts did not agree on the meaning, content or effect of the agreement with regard to the property rights of each spouse. He added that the couple either did not read the agreement closely or failed to read it altogether. The implication was clear: Everyone involved in the negotiation, drafting and execution of the post-nup failed to give the document the necessary attention.
The parties have different takes on the ruling. Jamie McCourt, according to her attorney, is now prepared to compromise in order to move ahead with the divorce. Frank McCourt, however, intends to take further action with regard to the ownership of the Dodgers. His lawyers said they will ask for a hearing to convince the court that Frank has sole ownership of the Dodgers, the stadium and the surrounding land.
The ruling is not a slam-dunk for Jamie, according to Frank’s attorneys. With the post-nup out of the picture, the court must now determine which property belongs to each spouse — a determination that hinges on who holds legal title. Several of the family’s homes are in Jamie’s name, for example. The team, however, is solely in Frank’s name.
So, the McCourt property division proceedings continue. Until it’s resolved, it seems they will both be strapped for cash. According to court documents, they have borrowed at least $100 million from Dodger-related businesses.