McCourt Postnuptial Agreement Invalid, Expensive Court Battle Continues

The situation of Frank and Jamie McCourt is a high-profile example of a postnuptial agreement gone wrong. In 2004, Frank McCourt purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers for $431 million. In order to afford the team, he needed to take out a significant amount of loans and advances against future earnings, which placed the couple at risk financially.

The couple allegedly signed a marital property agreement after the purchase which gave Frank sole ownership of the Dodgers, and Jamie possession of all of the homes they owned. This was to protect the McCourts should Frank default on any of the necessary loans.

During the divorce proceedings , Jamie contended that the agreement was invalid, because the version she signed did not specify that Frank would control the team. Six versions were originally drafted by attorneys, with half excluding Jamie from any ownership interest of the team.

A judge recently ruled that the agreement was invalid, as Jamie did not understand that she was giving up her portion of the Dodgers. Now that the postnuptial agreement has been thrown out, the McCourts will be fighting over who will be entitled to own the team.

Benefits of Marital Property Agreements

When executed properly, marital property agreements are designed to prevent these costly court battles from occurring. They are especially useful if couples have high net worth , businesses or professional practices . Since these documents come into existence after a couple is already married, there are specific requirements for each state that must be satisfied in order for the agreements to be considered valid.

Each side will need to understand what property will be awarded to the other spouse and the property that he or she will be giving up. Additionally, these agreements cannot be unconscionable, or so lopsided that the ordinary layperson would feel that it is completely unfair to one spouse. Parties considering a postnuptial agreement are advised to seek independent counsel to ensure that each spouse has someone to protect his or her interests.

Even though these documents are the sometimes the source of litigation, Missouri courts generally adhere to the language contained in the agreements. If you need help understanding how you can protect yourself in the event of a divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney.