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Court season opener Monday for Frank and Jamie McCourt

March 29, 2010 |  7:46 am

Just a week before baseball season opens, the court season starts for the Dodgers’ Frank and Jamie McCourt, who are involved in a contentious divorce battle.

Frank is expected to attend a hearing Monday morning on temporary spousal support for his estranged wife. Jamie is expected to be there as well. Neither is scheduled to testify.

Still, five months and thousands of pages of court documents later, it will be the first time either has stepped a well-shod foot in family court on this matter. The couple’s array of lawyers -- some of the most prominent in the city and the nation -- will stand before Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon to argue about how much (if any) temporary spousal support Jamie is owed while the rest of the divorce case proceeds.

The hearing is expected to last only through the end of Monday. The larger, more incendiary issue -- which carries repercussions for Major League Baseball -- is whether Jamie is a co-owner of the Dodgers, as she contends.

A date has yet to be set for the trial to determine whether the marital property agreements the couple signed several years ago, putting the Dodgers in Frank’s name and their homes in her name, should stand and govern how the court divides the marital assets.

Jamie contends she and Frank always believed she was a co-owner of the team. He says he is the sole owner. The commissioner hearing the entire divorce case could decide by Tuesday on the date for the trial.

Meanwhile, both sides have invested an enormous amount of legal time and energy on the issue of Jamie’s temporary support. Both McCourts -- who are 56 and married more than 30 years ago -- have argued passionately in court papers about what is fair and not fair in the temporary allotment of their fortune.

She is asking for $988,845 a month in support and $9 million to pay her legal team. Her lawyers have long insisted this entire process is sexist in the sense that Jamie, a lawyer who worked as general counsel in Frank's real estate company in Boston and who made $2 million a year as the Dodgers CEO, must appear as a supplicant asking her estranged husband for funds.

Frank has argued that because his wife was highly paid and has a portfolio of investments in her name --  their eight residential properties scattered from Malibu to Cape Cod -- she has plenty of funds to draw on for expenses, including the management of their homes. (If she must, she should sell or rent them, he has said in court papers.)

Her lawyers argue that her request of nearly $1 million a month is still less than half of the $2.31 million they estimate the couple took in each month during the last five years. In the process of arguing what should be assigned, the couple has laid bare the extravagances of their lifestyle -- thousands spent on clothes (by both Frank and Jamie), homes, travel and restaurants.

Each has accused the other of having more funds available than claimed in court documents. The array of legal talent assembled to help them may cost, by the couple’s estimate, as much as $19 million.

-- Carla Hall

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