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Jamie and Frank McCourt reach divorce settlement

Maryland native Jamie McCourt and her ex-husband Frank McCourt have agreed to a divorce settlement, over two years after initially announcing plans to separate. The couple had been locked in a long-running legal battle over the settlement, which largely concerned the ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jamie had intially demanded half-ownership over the team in her divorce filing, but agreed in the settlement to cede full ownership to her ex-husband in return for $130 million in spousal support. The transactions are detailed in full in the settlement, although neither has yet been completed.

The Dodgers are currently bankrupt, which presents additional legal challenges for Frank McCourt. If he still controls the team by the spring of 2012, but cannot pay his ex-wife the amount listed in the divorce settlement, he will be required to sell the team. However, if he can raise enough money by auctioning the Dodgers' television rights, the court may allow him to use those funds to pay his ex-wife while retaining control of the team.

The court could authorize the auction, but stipulate the money be used exclusively for team expenses. In such an event, Frank McCourt could attempt to sell land surrounding the team's stadium or a minority share in the team, although such a move would likely be blocked by the MLB's commissioner.

Because her ex-husband cannot currently pay the amount listed in the settlement, Jamie McCourt risks not receiving all of the money. Additionally, the ex-couple is facing millions in legal fees, making the outcome of her ex-husband's plans particularly important for her. The couple initially reached a settlement in June 2011, but that agreement was nullified after MLB comissioner blocked a contract that would have given Frank McCourt sufficient funds to pay his ex-wife.

Source: LA Times, "Divorce settlement solves one problem for Frank McCourt," Bill Shaikin, Oct. 17, 2011

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