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Judge tentatively orders Jamie McCourt to reimburse divorce fees

Atlantic City Dodgers fans might remember when Frank McCourt sold the team. His ex-wife, Jamie McCourt, alleged that he shortchanged the team's value and contested their 2012 divorce settlement agreement. Because the agreement was intended to put an end to divorce litigation, a superior court judge ruled, and said agreement granted the right for a party to ask for reimbursement of attorney's fees if the other party contested, Frank McCourt sought nearly $2 million from his ex-wife. On June 24, the judge ruled in Frank McCourt's favor.

The ruling is only tentative because Jamie McCourt has 15 days to appeal the judge's decision. If she doesn't change the judge's mind, she must pay her ex-husband $1.9 million to cover his attorney's fees. Her allegations of him undervaluing the team were rejected in September. The team sold in 2012 for more than $2 billion.

The original settlement awarded Jamie McCourt luxury homes that were purchased during the roughly three-decade union plus $131 million tax-free. Had she proven that her ex-husband had lied about the team's worth, she may have succeeded in getting new settlement terms. Her attorneys failed to do so. Their argument in April that the $1.9 million was excessive was also unsuccessful. According to the judge's decision, Jamie McCourt had knowledge of the Dodger's operations and matters surrounding her divorce. She'd received help from multiple attorneys and accountants. The judge ruled that the divorce agreement had been thoroughly negotiated.

Unless there is a change in circumstances or a party can demonstrate deceit, a divorce settlement could be difficult to modify once final. If former New Jersey spouses have a valid reason why they require a new settlement or a modification, an attorney could assist in explaining why the request should be approved.

Source: ABC News, "Judge Favors Frank McCourt in Divorce Fees Fight", Anthony McCartney, June 26, 2014

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