McCourt divorce: Court dates set to decide spousal support, not Dodgers' ownership
As Frank McCourt battles in bankruptcy court to retain ownership of the Dodgers, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Thursday set hearings to decide whether McCourt should reduce the monthly support he pays his ex-wife, Jamie, and should pay any of her attorney fees.
Jamie McCourt had asked Judge Scott Gordon to order an immediate sale of the team, but she withdrew the motion, and Gordon said he had no authority to order the sale of an asset under bankruptcy protection.
Gordon did not set a date to determine ownership of the Dodgers, so that question is likely to be left until next year. Frank McCourt claims sole ownership of the team; Jamie McCourt claims she is the half-owner of the Dodgers.
Gordon set Sept. 14 for a hearing on the attorney fee issue, as well as for Frank McCourt's request for temporary relief from spousal support payments and Jamie McCourt's request that he be ordered to pay $291,252 in what she says is past-due property maintenance costs. Gordon set Nov. 17-18 for a hearing on whether to lower the amount Frank McCourt must pay in support.
Gordon also chided the attorneys for Frank McCourt, who had argued that negotiations with Fox for a proposed television contract were part of routine Dodgers management. The attorneys for Jamie McCourt had argued their client was entitled to be apprised of negotiations with Fox and had expressed dismay that she was not notified in advance of the bankruptcy filing.
"She is in the position of having to rely on the media to understand what was going on with community property assets," said Michael Kump, an attorney for Jamie McCourt.
The proposed Fox contract -- since rejected by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig -- had been valued by Frank McCourt at $3 billion.
"I don't think that negotiating a contract of the size you're talking about is a regular business decision," Gordon said. "Putting an asset into bankruptcy is not in the ordinary course of business."
Gordon also said that Jamie McCourt had a duty to disclose any discussions about a potential sale of all or part of the Dodgers.
"If it's relevant for us, it's relevant for them," said Ryan Kirkpatrick, an attorney for Frank McCourt.
The Times reported last week that attorney fees for the divorce could hit $35 million, in what is likely the costliest split in California history.
"It's unfortunate that these people continue to fight," said Dennis Wasser, another attorney for Jamie McCourt. "We hope to get it resolved."
-- Bill Shaikin at Los Angeles Superior Court
Photo: Frank and Jamie McCourt in 2006. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times