Dodgers' Owner Frank McCourt Ordered to Pay $637,159 in Monthly Temporary Spousal Support to Wife Jamie McCourt

According to California law, “a person shall support the person’s spouse.” Family Code §4300. How far does that obligation go? While a divorce proceeding is pending, the court may order the husband or wife to pay any amount that is necessary for the support of the wife or husband. Family Code §3600. The purpose of support payments before a divorce is final, often called “temporary support,” is to maintain the status quo prior to the divorce. However, in most cases, especially in today’s economy, because of the increased cost of maintaining two households after a divorce, neither spouse has the ability to live at the level they did during marriage.

In the case of Frank and Jamie McCourt, the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the parties are estimated to have a net worth of over $1.2 billion. It seems that Frank McCourt should have no problem paying monthly support so that his soon to be ex–wife can live according to the parties’ marital standard of living. However, Jamie McCourt originally requested nearly $1,000,000 in monthly spousal support, claiming that said amount was necessary to maintain the marital standard of living. Should Frank McCourt really be responsible for maintaining Jamie’s extravagant lifestyle?

In declarations filed with the court, Jamie McCourt did recognize that their marital standard of living was “opulent,” by all standards. Among Ms. McCourt’s listed monthly expenses were: $538,029 for 10 different residences, $33,756 for support of the parties’ adult sons, $55,782 for personal expenses, including a hair stylist, hair coloring, facials and appointments with a skin doctor, manicures and pedicures, make up artist, and “designer clothing,” including “the finest clothes and shoes from designers such as Valentino, Michael Kors, Prada, Gucci, Armani and Manolo Blahnik.” The McCourts also apparently dined out at expensive restaurants for dinner four to five times a week and Jamie McCourt typically dined out for lunch six times per week. Said meals would usually run up to $200 per person. Ms. McCourt further estimated that she needs over $8,000 per month for travel, which, in the past has included trips to Madrid, Cabo San Lucas, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Israel, New York, Boston and Napa, CA. Based on the high amount of support Ms. McCourt was granted, the court apparently determined that she was entitled to continue living according to how the parties did during marriage, even if their standard of living was “opulent.”

Determining the marital standard of living is very fact based and, especially in a high income case like the McCourt’s, can be extremely involved. At Mello & Pickering, LLP we can work with you to determine what amount you may be entitled to, or what amount you should be paying for temporary spousal support, even if you don’t own a major league baseball team! Call us at (408) 288–7800 for a free 20 minute phone consultation or to set up a one hour meeting at our office.