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A Bitter and Expensive Dodgers Divorce

Wednesday, 28 Oct 2009 | 1:55 AM ET

Former Dodgers CEO Jamie McCourt has filed for divorce from her husband of 30 years, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.

Frank & Jamie McCourt
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Frank & Jamie McCourt

In what promises to be a very bitter proceeding, Mrs. McCourt cites irreconcilable differences, and is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in spousal support.

Mrs. McCourt is requesting that she be reinstated as team CEO, a job her husband fired her from on October 21, just as the Dodgers were about to lose the National League Pennant race.

The court filing says the couple is worth more than $1.2 billion, with "an annual estimate cash flow of tens of millions of dollars." It estimates that the Los Angeles Dodgers are currently worth an estimated $800 million.

Who owns the team? He says he does, she says they both do, and claims he tricked her into signing away legal standing.

"Because Major League Baseball's rules require that only one person be designated as the 'controlling person' of a franchise, Respondent (Frank McCourt) was designated as the 'controlling person' of the Dodgers," her filing states.

"However, Petitioner (Jamie McCourt), as co-owner, always has been extremely active in operating the franchise, serving initially as Vice Chairman, then as President, and, most recently, as Chief Executive Officer."

Jamie McCourt says her firing was "part of a calculated plan to try to humiliate and ostracize" her, and that she later discovered her husband had "failed to pay a number of their living expenses since at least July 2009."

Mrs. McCourt is requesting that her husband be ordered to pay her $320,967 a month spousal support "net of tax", but only if she is reinstated as team CEO. If she is not given back her old job, she wants $487,634 a month.

Without this money, Jamie McCourt says she is unable to meet her monthly expenses, as well as pay attorneys to litigate "what unquestionably will be a complex and expensive matter." By contrast, she says her husband "has access to almost unlimited funds."

"Unless my employment with the Dodgers is reinstated as requested, I will be unemployed," Jamie McCourt states. "While I have access to several investment accounts, the monies in those accounts consist of funds we saved during our marriage."

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'I do not believe it is appropriate that I should be required to invade our savings to pay my living expenses and the costs of this divorce action while Frank receives (or has access to) millions of dollars in distributions perquisites and benefits from the various Dodger related entities and other companies."

Mrs. McCourt also wants privileges reinstated including private jet travel, five-star hotel accommodations, unlimited travel expenses, the right to use the Owners Suite at Dodger Stadium, and country club fees. Those privileges even include smaller items like "Payment of Blackberry monthly fees" and "Flowers in the office".

The McCourts own nine properties, and Mrs. McCourt is seeking to bar her husband from removing any furnishings or other items from those properties. She's seeking "exclusive temporary use, possession and control" of both Malibu homes, barring her husband from entering either residence without prior written agreement or order from the court.

The court filing says monthly expenses for both McCourts top $760,000. Jamie McCourt says her share of that is over $480,000. This includes half the cost of owning, insuring and maintaining all nine properties. But it also includes an estimated $3,700 in monthly medical bills, $33,000 spent a month on clothes and more than $11,000 on personal care.

Her attorneys are also asking the court to force her husband to pay their fees, which are expected to get into the millions. "It is almost a certainty that this litigation will require Petitioner to incur more than $2 million in attorneys' fees and costs, more than $500,000 in forensic accounting fees and more than $220,000 in appraisers and other expert fees."

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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