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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

Baseball Team Ownership at Core of Property Division Dispute

Everything seems big in the divorce and property division case of Frank and Jamie McCourt; the asset figures being bandied about; the legal fees; the number of houses involved; and the sheer and pricey acreage at stake.

Although the couple may be splitting up, they retain one interest very much in common: baseball. Specifically, the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team owned either solely by Frank or by the couple together. That is unclear, and it is the central question in their divorce drama being presently played out in a Los Angeles courtroom.

Judge Scott M. Gordon is essentially being asked to consider the future ownership of the Dodgers and the nearly 300 acres that comprise Chavez Ravine, the near-downtown area in which Dodger Stadium sits.

Frank’s side contends that the property all belongs to him, by virtue of a signed marital property agreement the couple executed in 2004. On its face, it awards Frank sole ownership of the team and gives Jamie the couple’s seven houses. Jamie can’t plead lack of comprehension or sophistication concerning the agreement, says Frank: She has a master’s degree from MIT and was formerly the CEO of the Dodgers.

Jamie’s legal team readily acknowledges the agreement. It also points, though, to what it says are five other original property agreements, three of which include the Dodgers in Frank’s property and three which exclude the team. Moreover, Jamie alleges that Frank engaged in fraud by altering copies of the agreement.

All this creates ambiguity, says Jamie, which requires Judge Gordon to throw out the agreement and divide the property in accordance with state law. California is a community property state, which means that, if the agreement is rejected by the judge, the couple will be equal co-owners of the team.

Although, obviously, not all divorces feature equally problematic property division matters, couples in many divorces do have substantial assets and concerns regarding property division. A family law attorney with experience in asset valuation, tax and accounting considerations, business division and related matters can answer questions and help an individual or couple create a sound strategy for addressing these concerns.

Related Resource: www.usatoday.comDodgers say goodbye to Manny, hello to divorce court” August 30, 2010