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Judge orders Frank McCourt to pay wife $637,000 a month

Of the total, $225,000 is for temporary spousal support and the rest is related to costs of seven residences in Jamie McCourt's name.

May 07, 2010|By Carla Hall and Victoria Kim

After months of legal wrangling and thousands of pages of court documents, a Superior Court judge on Friday ordered the Dodgers' Frank McCourt to pay $225,000 a month in temporary spousal support to his estranged wife, Jamie, and an additional $412,159 a month in costs associated with the seven residences in her name.

The total of $637,159 in monthly support and real estate fees that L.A. County Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon ordered Frank McCourt to pay fell short of the $988,845 that Jamie McCourt had requested to maintain her homes and her lifestyle.

The actual spousal support is about half of what she argued she was entitled to, but $75,000 more than Frank McCourt argued he should pay.

In his ruling, Gordon said of the spousal support, "neither of the parties' positions is supported by the evidence."

Gordon did, however, provide close to what Jamie McCourt requested to cover her property expenses. He also ordered that an eighth property — land in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico — be sold and the proceeds split between the two McCourts for their legal fees. Jamie had requested about $9 million in legal fees.

Attorneys for both McCourts claimed a certain vindication.

"It is a 55-page, well-reasoned, fair order," said Dennis Wasser, Jamie McCourt's divorce attorney. "Our client is satisfied." Wasser added of Frank McCourt, "All along he offered zero, at the hearing he offered $150,000. She got $500,000 more than what he offered."

Frank's attorney, Marc Seltzer, on the other hand, implied in a statement that the decision had not gone Jamie McCourt's way: "He rejected Mrs. McCourt's request for almost half a million dollars in Dodger perks, and ordered her to pay her own attorneys' fees."

The judge noted — as both sides' lawyers did in court — that "during the course of their 30-year marriage, the parties established a very high and lavish marital standard of living." And, he added, "it is clear that the Dodger organization and the numerous affiliated businesses supported the parties' extraordinary lifestyle and the maintenance of the real property."

Both sides, he said, "remained in profound dispute" over just how much the Dodgers' organization and affiliated businesses were used to finance the couple's life together. But whatever that amount was, Gordon said, it helped the couple build "an extraordinary marital lifestyle."

He seemed to reject the notion that Frank McCourt was hard hit by the recession.

"The evidence, as currently presented in the case does not support this argument," the judge wrote.

Frank McCourt's new financial liabilities figure to stir concern among Dodgers fans that the team will be unable to afford to add experienced players during the season, particularly the pitchers needed to fortify the weakest area of the roster.

But the Dodgers' attorney, Marshall Grossman, insisted that the court order would have no impact on the team's finances because Frank McCourt's finances and the team's finances were separate.

"Frank is quite satisfied with the order," Grossman said. "The Dodgers have not been ordered to pay anything under the terms of this order.… As we have stated before, Dodger expenses are paid by the Dodgers."

The order is retroactive to Dec. 15, but Frank McCourt has until Sept. 1 to pay amounts already accrued. Between support and real estate costs since the retroactive date, he already owes roughly $2.8 million, Wasser said. Frank McCourt is responsible to pay current support as of May 1.

Friday's ruling takes care of only one aspect of the McCourts' divorce proceedings. The bigger issue — with potentially more impact — is determining whether the Dodgers are owned solely by Frank McCourt or jointly by the couple. A trial on that matter is set for late August.

carla.hall@latimes.com

victoria.kim@latimes.com

Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.

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