Former LA Dodgers' Owner Back in Court as Ex-Wife Petitions to Set Aside Divorce Settlement

April 18, 2013
By Thomas M. Huguenor on April 18, 2013 9:07 AM |

216494_dodgers_baseball_game.jpgFor spouses seeking to divorce in San Diego, California law generally requires that marital property be divided equally. Identifying marital property and determining its value are critical parts of any divorce case. In some instances, a party to a divorce settlement could later argue that because of fraud or errors made in determining the value of marital property, the court should set aside the settlement. Because the value of marital property is of crucial importance to the outcome of the settlement, spouses are encouraged to hire an experienced San Diego family law attorney who will work to get the best settlement for their case.

According to a Bloomberg news article, Jamie and Frank McCourt dissolved their marriage in 2010. They announced their divorce settlement in October 2011, which allocated to Ms. McCourt a tax-free sum of $131 million. Six months after their settlement was finalized, Frank McCourt sold the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion. After learning about the sale of the team, Ms. McCourt petitioned a California Superior Court judge to set aside the settlement, claiming that it was based on fraud. She contends that as co-owner of the team, she was entitled to a great deal more than the $131 million she received under the settlement.

According to some reports, it is said that Ms. McCourt received 7% of the couple's assets, while Mr. McCourt received 93%. The motion filed recently claims that after the sale of the team, less any relevant debts, Mr. McCourt's assets turned out to be worth $1.7 billion, more than 10 times the amount Ms. McCourt received in the settlement.

Although the process can become costly and time consuming, California law does provide an avenue of relief for parties who wish to set aside a divorce settlement. Under Code of Civil Procedure Section 473, or Family Law Code Section 2122, an ex-spouse may seek to set aside the settlement on grounds such as fraud or mistake, among others.

As part of her motion to set aside the divorce settlement, Ms. McCourt sought to uncover testimony from a confidential mediation proceeding between the Dodgers, Frank McCourt and various league officials. According to another article, the U.S. Bankruptcy judge who oversaw the team's bankruptcy case refused to allow Ms. McCourt access to the information revealed during the mediation sessions. In the judge's opinion, the confidential mediation was "an essential ingredient in the success" of resolving the Dodgers' bankruptcy case.

It should be clear that the best course of action is to be fully aware -- in advance of the settlement discussions -- of all of the marital property and the respective worth of each item. Ms. McCourt admitted to being surprised at herself for making such a "huge mistake" as to the value of the marital assets, namely, the baseball team. An experienced, local divorce attorney can assist you in the thorough identification and valuation of all marital property, and should conduct an exhaustive investigation of your and your spouse's marital finances.

For more than 35 years, San Diego certified divorce lawyer Thomas Huguenor has represented people finding their way through the California divorce process, including helping spouses to identify and determine the value of marital property. For a free and confidential consultation, contact him today online or at (858) 458-9500.

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