Mark Ashton, a partner in our Exton (Chester County), Pennsylvania office and former editor of our Pennsylvania Family Law Blog wrote a thought provoking post on that blog entitled The McCourt Divorce; Being Rich is Not What It Used to Be."

The McCourt divorce has been in the news for the last year over issues such as lavish spending and validity of a purported post nuptial agreement, that at best, had certain irregularities as to which version was actually the signed version as well as what the purpose of the agreement actually was.  Most recently, the case was in the news because of a reported settlement, a settlement which may now be scuttled because it was dependent on an infusion of cash from a new television rights deal with Fox that Major League Baseball has rejected for various reasons.

Mark, however, posits that  ownership of major league sport’s franchises has rarely been a boon to the owners over the short run, but that the benefit to professional team ownership )aside from the prestige of it) came not in the profits but in the gains. Mark noted that it was not uncommon for teams to lose money from year to year but that banks and other investors freely lent because it was prestigious to do so and because they had the security of knowing that almost no one who ever sold a team lost money. As the world of banking has changed, so too may the world of owning a professional sports franchise.

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."