Kevin Qualls Family Law
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Divorce settlement challenge favors Frank McCourt

The hotly contested California divorce between former Los Angeles Dodger owner Frank McCourt and his ex-wife may finally be over. This case was actually originally settled in 2012, but McCourt's ex-wife was contesting the terms of the high asset divorce settlement agreement. The judge in the case has tentatively ruled against her and says she must pay her ex-husband's nearly $2 million in attorneys fees as stipulated in the divorce agreement.

As part of the settlement, Jamie McCourt received several expensive homes that the couple had acquired during their marriage and $131 million in cash, while Frank retained sole ownership of the team. However, attorneys representing his ex-wife claimed that their client was short changed on the value of the Dodgers, which McCourt sold later in 2012 for over $2 billion. In September, the same judge rejected her claim and McCourt's attorneys asked for repayment of the $2 million in fees. Attorneys for McCourt's ex-wife countered that the fees were excessive.

The judge based his ruling on his legal interpretation that the original settlement made it clear that both parties intended it to end litigation. The ruling continued by pointing out that the terms in the settlement were negotiated and carefully considered. In addition, the judge stated that McCourt's ex-wife is a business-savvy individual who understood the operations of the baseball team and the ongoing litigation over its ownership issues.

It is often difficult to amend final divorce settlements without a great deal of time and cost. If one of the parties believes evidence has emerged showing previously undisclosed assets, it may be worthwhile to pursue contesting the original settlement. However, both parties should be aware that such agreements often contain a clause that requires the party challenging the settlement to pay his or her ex-spouse's legal fees.

Source: ABC News, "Judge Favors Frank McCourt in Divorce Fees Fight", Anthony McCartney, June 26, 2014

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