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Frank and Jamie McCourt working quietly on a settlement

Hearing scheduled for April 11 is postponed a month, giving both sides more time to negotiate a complex divorce agreement.

March 29, 2011|By Bill Shaikin
  • Jamie and Frank McCourt's lawyers have been granted a request to have a scheduled hearing postponed, giving both parties more time to negotiate a divorce settlement.
Jamie and Frank McCourt's lawyers have been granted a request to have… (Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles…)

With the Dodgers on the verge of a second season under unsettled ownership, Frank and Jamie McCourt are quietly working to settle their divorce.

At the request of attorneys on both sides, the court on Friday postponed a scheduled April 11 hearing, according to the case log. Jamie McCourt had asked that Frank be ordered to provide her with extensive financial documentation regarding the Dodgers' business operations.

The court moved the hearing date to May 11. However, that change also provides the parties additional time to focus on negotiating what would be a complex agreement to end contentious divorce proceedings that started during the 2009 postseason.

The Dodgers open this season Thursday, against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

Steve Sugerman, the spokesman for Frank McCourt, and Matthew Hiltzik, the spokesman for Jamie McCourt, each declined to comment.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon last December threw out an agreement that would have granted Frank McCourt sole ownership of the team. Jamie McCourt said the decision effectively made her the half-owner of the team.

At the time, attorneys for Frank McCourt said he would move promptly toward a second trial to establish the Dodgers as his separate property, and attorneys for Jamie McCourt said she would form an investment group and offer to buy out her ex-husband's interest in the team.

Yet Frank McCourt has not made any court filings in support of that second trial, according to the case log, and Jamie McCourt has not publicly identified any investors who might be willing to partner with her. The McCourts met to renew settlement talks on March 2, and attorneys on both sides have declined to comment since then.

It is uncertain how the McCourts might settle their divorce, although Frank McCourt has maintained he would remain the sole owner of the Dodgers however the case was resolved. In a brief interview at a Dodgers exhibition game Friday, he declined to say how he could be so confident in that position but said he would address the issue at a later date.

In previous rounds of settlement talks, Jamie McCourt has agreed to yield ownership of the Dodgers to her ex-husband in exchange for a payout, but she has balked at the proposals he has offered.

Jamie McCourt's attorneys have said Frank McCourt might need to grant her a stake in the Dodgers in order to retain ownership and generate the revenue to manage the team's debt. Bud Selig, baseball's commissioner, has rejected a proposal under which Fox would have loaned Frank McCourt about $200 million, and he has privately said he might reject any television deal that would provide McCourt with a cash infusion.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/billshaikin

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