SANTA ROSA FAMILY LAWYER BLOG

Articles Posted in Marital Settlement Agreement

Published on:

Earlier this year, Jamie McCourt, the former CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers and ex-wife of the Major League Baseball franchise’s former owner, Frank McCourt, filed a petition to overturn the couples’ divorce settlement. The divorce settlement was reached in 2011 when Frank McCourt still owned the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Piggy Bank.jpg
In the couple’s 2011 divorce settlement, Jamie McCourt gave up her ownership claim to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for $131 million.
The terms of the couple’s divorce settlement provided Jamie McCourt with $131 million in addition to a share of the couples residences. In exchange, Jamie McCourt gave up her ownership claim to the Major League Baseball franchise.
Jamie McCourt argues that Frank McCourt represented that the franchise was worth less than $300 million but sold the team for $2.15 billion just six months later.
In the petition filed earlier this year, Jamie McCourt argued that she agreed to the terms of the divorce settlement because her former husband misled her regarding the value of the Los Angeles Dodgers franchise. Jamie McCourt alleged that her ex-husband represented that the Major League Baseball franchise was valued at less than $300 million while under the penalty of perjury. However, just six months after the couple’s divorce settlement was finalized Frank McCourt sold the team for $2.15 billion through a bankruptcy court auction.
A Los Angeles Judge ruled this week that Jamie McCourt did not provide sufficient evident to support her allegations of fraud.
This week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Scott M. Gordon issued a ruling denying Jamie McCourt’s petition. In his opinion, the Judge reasoned that Jamie McCourt failed to provide the Court with sufficient evidence to prove that she did not have a full and complete understanding of the value of the couple’s assets when she agreed to the divorce settlement. The Judge went on to reason that Jamie McCourt was a sophisticated individual who had familiarity with the business, having served as the franchise’s CEO.
Study reveals that couples routinely hide financial information from one another.

A Forbes magazine article published last year revealed that partners routinely hide assets from each other, both when their marriage is going well and during divorce proceedings. The article cited a study conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education which found that 58 percent of spouses report hiding cash from their partners and 34 percent admitted to lying about their finances, debt, or earnings.
Misrepresenting information in a Financial Affidavit that is filed with the court in a divorce proceeding is illegal and can result in serious penalties. If you believe that your former spouse misrepresented financial information during your divorce proceeding and settlement process, you should contact an attorney immediately. An attorney will be able to review the circumstances of your case and determine your options for recourse.
Related Blog Posts:

What Happens to Joint Mortgage Debt in a Divorce?

The Pitfalls of Relying on News Sources for Divorce Guidance

Continue reading →

Published on:

One Million.jpgIn October of 2011, former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his wife, Jamie McCourt, who served as the Dodgers’ CEO reached a divorce settlement agreement. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Jamie McCourt received $131 million tax-free as well as, ownership of several properties.

However, Jamie McCourt recently filed claims alleging that her former spouse committed fraud by misrepresenting the Dodger’s assets. According to court documents, the misrepresentation resulted in her agreeing to a settlement that was nearly $770 million lower than what she was entitled too. She is back in court seeking a larger settlement.

Jamie McCourt states that Frank McCourt provided her with financial documents which indicated that the Dodger’s assets were valued at less than $300 million, when he knew that their true value was much higher. The information provided to Jamie McCourt did not include the value of a future regional sports network, projected to enhance the team’s value by $1 billion.

According to Franck McCourt’s attorney, Jamie McCourt was provided with details regarding plans to build a regional sports network, but that it wasn’t listed as an asset because it was not yet in existence. Frank McCourt’s attorney argues that Jamie McCourt was provided with the Dodger’s most up-to-date financial documents before settlement was reached and that she failed to do her due diligence prior to agreeing to settlement. During trial, Frank McCourt’s attorney stated that there was no evidence to support Jamie McCourt’s claims of fraud.

In late April, Jamie McCourt testified that she was under the impression that she and Frank McCourt were splitting their assets equally. Jamie McCourt stated that she was surprised to learn that the Dodgers were worth more than she was led to believe when the team sold for $2 billion after the couple’s divorce was finalized.

A ruling in this case is not expected until later this summer. However, if the presiding Judge tosses out the divorce settlement, the former couple will resume previous arguments regarding whether the Dodgers were community property under California law or if they solely belonged to Frank McCourt.

Financial Information Frequently Hidden in Divorce
An article published in Forbes magazine late last year revealed that partners routinely hide assets from each other, including during divorce proceedings. According to a study by the National Endowment for Financial Education, 58 percent of spouses report hiding case from their partners and 34 percent admitted to lying about their finances, debt, or earnings.

Misrepresenting information in a Financial Affidavit that is filed with the court in a divorce proceeding is illegal and can result in serious penalties.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Chess GameQ: What is an action for contempt against spouse and what is it used for?

You and your soon to be ex-spouse are going through a highly contested divorce proceeding. You believe that your spouse does not play by the rules, and your spouse believes that you are hiding assets. The unfortunate aspect of your divorce is that you have three young children, and there are child custody orders which grant both you and your spouse joint legal and joint physical custody of your children. In conjunction with those orders, you have a child visitation schedule with your three children on a week-on, week-off time-sharing schedule, with exchanges to take place every Sunday at 6:00pm.
It never fails that whenever there is a major sporting event on television, your spouse NEVER exchanges the children on time. In fact, your spouse is always hours late to the exchange, and you never can count on receiving the children on time. This last Sunday, October 28, 2012, the San Francisco Giants were playing the Detroit Tigers for the World Series. If the San Francisco Giants won the game, they would have been crowed the World Series Champion. Well, you knew, just as it always happens, that your spouse would not exchange the children on time. In fact, on this October 28, 2012, after the San Francisco Giant beat the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series, your spouse did not exchange the children but withheld them from you. As far as you were concerned, this was the last straw and you wanted to know how you could compel your spouse to abide to the rules set forth by your child custody court order.
The answer is simple. You have the right to file an action for contempt against your spouse. An action for contempt is a quasi-criminal matter. If found guilty, your spouse could actually be sent to jail or could instead receive a sentence requiring them to perform a significant amount of community service.
Actions for contempt are governed by California Code of Civil Procedure §1209 et al, which states that “(5) Disobedience of any lawful judgment, order, or process of the Court…” are contempts of the authority of the court. CCP §1209(5). Pursuant to CCP §1218(c), in any action where a party is found in contempt pursuant to the family code, “the court shall order the contemner to perform community service of up to 120 hours, or to be imprisoned up to 120 hours, for each count of contempt.” In addition, CCP §1218 prescribes a fine and/or punishment and provides that for each act of contempt the contemnor may be fined up to $1,000.00.

“The purpose of…civil contempt proceeding is not to punish but to secure future compliance with the orders of court…” Wilson v. Superior Court (1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 1259, 1275, citing Toussaint v. McCarthy (N.D.Cal 1984) 597 F.Supp. 1427, 1431.
In order for a party to be held in contempt of Court for disobedience of any lawful order, “the acts constituting the contempt must be clearly and specifically prohibited…” Brunton v. Superior Court (1942) 20 Cal.2d 202, 205. In fact, the “most basic premise in the law of contempt is that such punishment can only rest upon clear, intentional violation of a specific, narrowly drawn order.” Wilson v. Superior Court (1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 1259, 1273.

In your case, where your spouse has consistently disobeyed a Court order requiring exchanges of your children to take place each Sunday at 6:00pm, a Court may find that each instance of your spouse failing to return the children to you on time is a separate and distinct charge of contempt. Therefore, if your spouse has not returned the children on time on five different occasions, theoretically, your spouse could be held in contempt of five distinct charges. Under this scenario, your spouse could be sentenced to over 600 hours of community services, or fined up to $5,000.00.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Our Santa Rosa California divorce attorneys know that a divorce is an incredibly stressful event. The divorce process can be lengthy, emotionally taxing on everyone involved, and have major financial implications for both spouses. For some couples, there is another option to the traditional divorce process that can help avoid the negative consequences of a divorce. This method is called mediation. handwriting.jpg
What is Mediation?
Mediation in California is defined as a process in which a neutral person or persons facilitates communication between disputants to assist them in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. What does this really mean? It means that a couple seeking a divorce will meet with a person that has no interest in the outcome of the divorce agreement in order to hash out the terms of their arrangement. The neutral person in these cases can be a family law lawyer, though the attorney cannot be an advocate for any single side in the case.
Generally a couple seeking a divorce through mediation will meet several times with the neutral person (mediator) within a short time period. In each session the mediator will encourage open dialogue between the parties in order to resolve any issues standing in the way of a divorce settlement. The goal of these sessions is to come to an agreement on all issues involved in a divorce in a timely manner and as stress free as possible for everyone.
Advantages of Mediation
Mediation can has many advantages for the right people in the right situation. Mediation can be less stressful and more affordable for couples than the traditional divorce route. For couples that are flexible on reaching an agreement the process of mediation can avoid the stress of a drawn-out court battle, not to mention the financial cost of such an action. These advantages can also greatly benefit any children that the couple has.
Disadvantages of Mediation
Despite its advantages, mediation is not always the right option for couples seeking a divorce. For example, if there are complex financial issues involved the parties will need greater help to determine a fair outcome than mediation can provide. Another reason mediation might not be right in your situation is when there is a degree of animosity between the spouses that could be a roadblock in reaching an agreement.
Marital Settlement Agreement
Once an agreement has been reached through mediation it must be finalized through a Marital Settlement Agreement in order to be binding. This agreement is a document where all of the details of the settlement reached in mediation are documented. The agreement is then signed by both parties and becomes legally binding as it is technically a contract.

Getting Legal Help in Northern California
If you are interested in learning more about mediation as a means to obtain a divorce settlement, Beck Law P.C. can help you. The family law attorneys of the firm can help you through this trying situation and help you determine which method of obtaining a divorce is best for your circumstances. For a free consultation regarding mediation, or a traditional divorce action, contact Beck Law P.C. at 707-576-7175 or contact us online.
See Related Blog Posts:
Santa Rosa Mediation & Divorce
5 California Divorce Myths

Contact Information