Baseball, fondly known to many as “America’s Pastime” has been a family court headliner for weeks. Los Angeles Dodgers’ owners Frank and Jamie McCourt have been involved in an extremely high-asset divorce. A huge issue in the resolution of the case has been whether or not the Dodgers are Frank’s separate property or if they should be considered marital property and a part of the asset division.
The couple had entered into a marital agreement after Frank purchased the team in 2004. The postnuptial agreement had been signed by both the parties and explained exactly what status the couple’s assets should be given. What made this case so controversial was when it was discovered that there was not just one marital agreement, there were several documents with two strikingly different versions of how the Dodger’s ownership should be handled. Testimony came to a close this past Wednesday, and the judge is scheduled to make a decision sometime this October.
The lawyer who drafted the marital agreement admitted to the court that he altered the document to exclude the Dodgers as separate property after the parties had signed them. According to him, neither spouse was notified about the change because he said that the omission was simply a clerical drafting error. He said that the parties had always intended that the team remain Frank’s exclusive property.
California is a state that follows the community property theory, where all assets obtained during the marriage are considered marital assets unless an agreement, such as the McCourt’s postnuptial agreement, clearly states the parties’ intent that specific assets be treated otherwise in the event of a divorce. It is obvious that in this case, the dual agreements have left a less than clear picture of intent which the court will have to sort out.
Source: Lexology.com “Ownership of the L.A. Dodgers turns on altered marriage agreement” Lisa Slater 10/1/10