Since they have been in the news a lot lately, I have bloged a lot recently on celebrity divorces, be it John & Kate, Stephanie Seymour or Jim Nantz. That is why the article from Billy Witz that recently appeared in the New York Times about the divorce of Frank McCourt and Jamie McCourt, the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers got my attention.
Both parties claim to own the team – though Frank claims to be the sole owner. Both worked for the team until recently, when Jamie was fired. As a sign of the war to come, Jamie’s lawyers budgeted her legal fees for this matter to be $2 million. Per the article, the central issue is as follows:
"The key legal issue is whether the Dodgers are considered the McCourts’ community property. Under California law, a couple’s assets are split 50-50 unless a written agreement states otherwise. Shortly after buying the Dodgers, the McCourts put the team in Frank’s name and all their property in Jamie’s name to protect the homes from potential creditors. One of her lawyers, Michael Kump, said they would challenge the validity of the postnuptial agreement.
If the agreement is not valid, Fisher said, the McCourts would probably be forced to sell, as John Moores did with the San Diego Padres when he divorced."
The result would probably be the same in New Jersey. It seems pretty clear that when people divorce, the cannot remain in business together. In fact, in the well known Borodinsky case, the Appellate Division held:
It seems almost doctrinal that the elimination of the source of strife and friction is to be sought by the judge in devising the scheme of distribution, and the financial affairs of the parties should be separated as far as possible. If the parties cannot get along as husband and wife, it is not likely that they will get along as business partners.
Obviously this is the case with the fighting McCourts. We will pay close attention as to how this works out but until then, play ball.