When it comes to divorce settlements, many believe that once the ink is dry, there is little to nothing that can be done to alter the agreement. However, a very high-profile and high net-worth divorce is headed back to court a year after a settlement was reached, and may result in a different division of assets than formerly agreed upon. Many in Massachusetts followed the headline-grabbing divorce between Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie McCourt.
The couple reached an agreement in Oct. 2010. Jamie McCourt accepted $131 million in exchange for relinquishing her claim to co-ownership of the Dodgers. However, when her ex-husband sold the team in May 2012 for an estimated $2 billion, that agreement began to appear unbalanced. An attorney for Jamie McCourt points out that settlement was reached based on Frank McCourt’s estimate that the team would be worth no more than $300 million.
That would put the division of assets somewhere in the ballpark of 93 percent for Frank McCourt, and 7 percent for Jamie McCourt. The most recent filing asserts that Frank McCourt committed fraud by misrepresenting the value of the team during the divorce process. However, even if he undervalued the Dodgers without any intent to defraud his wife, the divorce settlement could still be set aside and revisited. While altering an existing divorce agreement is uncommon and not easily accomplished, there are circumstances in which the original terms were reached using financial data that was substantially incorrect.
As this case makes its way through the courts, sports fans in Massachusetts will likely learn more about the sale of the team and the details of this high net-worth divorce. While the wealth in question in this case is staggering to many, couples should understand that just because a divorce agreement is settled between the parties, there are circumstances in which it is appropriate to ask a court to reevaluate the settlement. Should the judge in this case agree with Ms. McCourt that the settlement was heavily weighed against her, she stands to gain an enormous payout in the form of a new agreement. Anyone who is concerned that their divorce settlement was similarly unfair should be sure to fully understand their rights under the law before moving forward to rectify the situation.
Source: seattlepi.com, “Ex-Dodger owner back in divorce court,” Sept. 26, 2012