Thursday, May 13, 2010

So just what does the support award mean?

Last week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon awarded Jamie McCourt $637,159 per month, retroactive to December. $225,000 of that sum is the general "temporary spousal support" award--money Jamie may use for whatever expenses she incurs. The rest of the figure--$412,159 each month--is meant to cover the mortgages on several of the couple's properties over the duration of the divorce. The two numbers provide contrary indications of which way the court is leaning on the validity of the post-nup.

The most significant victory for Frank last week was that Jamie will not be compensated for the loss of Dodgers benefits, perquisites, and emoluments. In English, this means: no NetJets. A sizable portion of Jamie's support demands consisted of cash to make up for the perks she used to enjoy as an owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. As you know, she's contending that the post-nup severing her legal claim to the Dodgers is invalid, and the court should determine she has a half-stake in the club and related entities. A victory on this point would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to her, and would likely result in the team's sale. That the court didn't grant her request for owner's perks suggests her claim to the club might not be as strong as she thinks.

On the other hand, the court also declined to stick her with all the debt service on the residential real estate she owns according to the contested post-nup. Had Commissioner Gordon ruled, as Frank asked, that Jamie would have to sell some of the properties to cover her expenses, we'd have a much clearer idea about the status of the post-nup. Instead, the court ordered the couple's Cabo San Lucas property sold, and the proceeds split between the two. This is certainly a victory for Jamie, as the court implicitly refused to acknowledge the post-nup's validity. For now.

I'm not inclined to draw conclusions from how the court handled the support issues. California family courts have broad leeway to make decisions in the interest of fairness and practicality, especially on a temporary basis. The consequences of strict adherence to the post-nup at this stage of litigation would be severe; Jamie might not have recovered. While the outcome here can't please Frank, it was really the only way the court could save the battle for the Dodgers until the appropriate time. To honor the post-nup now might have resulted in a fatal blow to Jamie's case, so the court took the middle road.

An old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon once showed the strip's precocious protagonist grousing, "A good compromise leaves everybody mad." And that's certainly the case here. Neither party really got what they wanted, and all this drama is really just the undercard. It's still several months until the team's long-term future is up for discussion. Barring a settlement, we'll have playoff tickets in hand (or not) by the time this is all resolved.

I apologize for how slow it's been this week. Busiest time of my year. Looking forward to finishing it out and spending more time in our little corner. And thanks to master-of-all-trades Jon Weisman for catching a typo in this post; not content with a couple full-time jobs, he's a keen editor as well.

1 comment:

  1. "That the court didn't grant her request for owner's perks suggests her claim to the club might be as strong as she thinks."

    Did you mean "might not be"?