Love, Marriage, Baseball, And Premarital Agreements
We’ll wager those are four words you never thought you’d see in the same sentence. Admittedly, these things normally aren’t related. But before, during and after the Los Angeles Dodger declared bankruptcy in 2011, all four of these things came together.
As outlined below, the team owners had a controversial premarital agreement, and the dispute wound up in court. Lawmakers in California and Florida have approved the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act, so the results would be roughly the same if the McCourts owned the Miami Marlins or the Tampa Bay Rays. Although the UPMAA gives both spouses important legal rights, these rights are simply ink on paper unless a Jupiter family law attorney stands up for them in court.
Once Upon a Time…
Frank and Jamie McCourt, a billionaire SoCal power couple, bought the Dodgers in the early 2000s. At that time, the storied team had fallen on hard times. The club hadn’t won the World Series since 1988. Kirk Gibson’s unbelievable home run in Game One set the stage for that victory. Then, the Dodger teams in the 1990s underachieved almost every year. After over a decade of frustrating futility, the fickle Los Angeles fans quit buying tickets and quit watching the games on TV.
The teams on-field play continued to decline in the early 2000s, and so did its financial profile. Supposedly, when the team filed bankruptcy in June 2011, Frank McCourt, the sole remaining owner, didn’t have enough cash to cover the team’s payroll in July.
Frank was the only owner at the time because he and Jamie divorced a few years earlier. Once again according to rumor, Frank had caught Jamie in a compromising position that shouldn’t be detailed on a family-friendly website.
Since the team was bankrupt and practically worthless, Jamie gave up her half for roughly $300 million in cash and property.
After the bankruptcy, the team quickly rebounded, mostly because of additions like standout pitcher Clayton Kershaw. A few years later, Frank sold the team for a then-record $2.4 billion.
The Legal Battle
The prenup meant that Jamie was roughly $900 million short of a 50-50 split in a community property state. So, she asked a court to invalidate the premarital agreement. Under the UPMAA, there are only two possible grounds for such an action, involuntariness and unconscionability.
Jamie argued that the agreement was involuntary because Frank lied about the team’s value. She also argued that a $900 million shortfall was unconscionable under any definition of that word. The court rejected both these arguments, as follows:
- Involuntary: The court observed that Jamie was a co-owner when she signed the prenup. So, she had access to all the financial records she wanted. Under the UPMAA, a Jupiter family law attorney must prove the challenging spouse didn’t have access to financial information from another source. Additionally, the court noted that Frank turned over hundreds of pages of financial documents.
- Unconscionable: The UPMAA also states that the agreement must be unconscionable when it was made. In 2011, the agreement was clearly not unconscionable. Frank got a worthless baseball team and Jamie got $300 million. If anything, Jamie may have gotten the long end of the stick in the prenup.
Jamie lost her case in California, just as she probably would have lost it in Florida. To add insult to injury, the judge ordered Jamie to pay her ex-husband’s legal bill.
But the story has somewhat of a happy ending for Jamie. A few years later, the longtime Republican fundraiser became the U.S. ambassador to France and Monaco. That’s a pretty nice consolation prize.
Speak With a Diligent Palm Beach County Lawyer
Divorce and related matters almost always involve financial and emotional issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Jupiter family law attorney, contact Caroline Olson, P.A. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.