Arizona baseball fans may remember former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who is currently involved in a lawsuit filed by a man who claims he was beaten up while at a game. The man allegedly suffered serious injuries, and he is suing the Dodgers and McCourt for upwards of $36 million. While that case is coming to a close, McCourt has been embroiled in another more personal battle. He and his wife of nearly 30 years, Jamie McCourt, split in 2012. As part of the divorce agreement, she was given $131 million tax-free and was also given ownership of several of the luxury homes the couple had owned together.
However, the agreement also included a clause that provided if either member of the couple chose to challenge the divorce agreement, he or she would pay the other’s court costs. Jamie challenged the agreement, claiming that Frank had represented the Dodgers as being worth less than they actually were. She claimed she had been shortchanged in the property division phase of the divorce. However, the judge in the case didn’t agree, and the claims were denied, with Jamie being ordered to reimburse Frank for the $1.9 million he spent in court costs.
Jamie’s lawyers again challenged the ruling and asserted that $1.9 million was excessive for court costs. The agreement was upheld, though, as the judge examined it and determined it was written carefully over time with input from both parties.
For those who are going through divorce, it is often common practice to have a prenuptial agreement in place. However, in cases of high-asset divorce, it may be wise to also have an agreement to place a disincentive against further litigation. In many cases, enlisting the help of a lawyer to negotiate and draft them may increase the odds that the agreements will stand up in court.