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Judge orders Dodgers' Frank McCourt to pay his wife more than $637,000 a month in spousal support [Updated]

May 7, 2010 |  3:30 pm

http://latimes.image2.trb.com/lanews/media/photo/2009-10/49863299.jpg

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has ordered Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to pay his estranged wife, Jamie, $637,159 a month in temporary spousal support, plus lawyers' fees pending their divorce.

The amount that Judge Scott Gordon decided upon falls short of the $988,845 that Jamie McCourt requested. More than half that requested amount ($568,829), her lawyers said, is needed to pay the costs, including mortgages, of seven homes and an eighth piece of property in Mexico that are listed in her name. Her lawyers argued that spousal support should include those costs since her estranged husband used to contribute funds to the housing.

The judge specified that $412,159 of the monthly total should go to payment of costs associated with the properties, but ordered the property in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to be sold.

In the months since she made her lofty financial request, Jamie McCourt has been vilified in the court of public opinion and in the courtroom -- where her husband's attorney, Sorrell Trope, likened her to Marie Antoinette.

Both sides have agreed in court that the couple has lived lavishly -- "Every need, every want these people had was met," her attorney, Dennis Wasser said -- but they have bitterly disagreed over how Jamie McCourt should sustain that lifestyle during the divorce proceedings.

Her lawyers argued that Frank McCourt has access to $18 million annually and should not withhold from his wife the funds she needs to maintain the lifestyle that they created together.

"They were their houses and the title was just in her name," her civil attorney, Michael Kump, said of the properties after the spousal support hearing in March. "Jamie didn't go out and buy two houses in Holmby Hills and two houses in Malibu.... They bought two houses in Holmby Hills and two houses in Malibu."

Trope, on the other hand, said Frank McCourt, who is living at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, has an annual income of just $5 million, is trying to cut back and could offer his wife $150,000 a month in support.

Trope said the Dodgers franchise was not Frank McCourt's "personal piggy bank" and that Jamie McCourt should rent some of her properties to generate cash.

He also noted that Jamie McCourt had earned a $2-million salary last year as chief executive of the Dodgers. Her lawyers pointed out that she was fired from that job by her husband.

The court filings on spousal support have drawn many curious eyes eager to pore over the details of the couple's life together -- from the descriptions of their houses and their stays in the finest hotels to the personal hairstylists for both husband and wife.

But the spousal support fight is just a small part of the couple's disagreement. The bigger source of conflict -- which could have major consequences outside their marriage -- is over ownership of the Dodgers.

Frank McCourt argues that he alone owns the baseball team. Jamie McCourt says they share ownership. The trial on that issue is scheduled to begin in late August.

--Carla Hall

[Correction: A previous version of this post referred to Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon as a commissioner.]

Photo: Frank and Jamie McCourt at Dodger Stadium.

Credit: Los Angeles Times

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