After roughly three decades of marriage, Frank and Jamie McCourt agreed to dissolve their marriage. Their settlement agreement included clear language demonstrating an intent to end divorce litigation, according to a judge’s decision. Toward that end, the terms included an option to seek reimbursement of attorneys’ fees in the event that the other party contested the settlement. When Jamie McCourt contested the agreement, the judge reportedly ruled that she pay her ex-husband’s $1.9 million legal expenses spent fighting to uphold the original settlement.
Despite attorneys for Jamie McCourt arguing in April that the $1.9 million was excessive, a superior court judge ruled in favor of her ex-husband on June 24. The ruling is tentative, conditional on 15 days passing without an appeal. Jamie McCourt’s main reason for contesting the settlement was reportedly the value of the Dodgers, the team that Frank McCourt once owned. Illinois Dodgers fans might recall that the team sold in 2012, the same year that the McCourts divorced.
The team was purchased for more than $2 billion. Jamie McCourt had said that her ex-husband undervalued the team, an argument that was rejected in September 2013. The divorce settlement gave her $131 million tax-free, plus multiple pieces of property that the former couple had bought while married. During their divorce negotiations, Jamie McCourt had help from forensic accountants and several attorneys, according to the judge’s June decision. He believed that the settlement had been carefully thought out.
Settling a divorce to achieve an equitable distribution of assets can be a complicated matter. An attorney could assist individuals with spousal mediation or other alternative dispute options that might allow for a timely agreement. If settling is not an option, a family law attorney could employ legal strategies to fight for a desired outcome in court.
Source: ABC News, “Judge Favors Frank McCourt in Divorce Fees Fight”, Anthony McCartney, June 26, 2014