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Frank McCourt says estranged wife doesn’t need spousal support pending trial

Frank McCourt says he should not be obligated to support his estranged wife during their divorce proceedings, claiming in a court filing Tuesday that Jamie McCourt can maintain her lifestyle and pay her legal fees without any contribution from him.

Jamie McCourt had asked for nearly $1 million per month in spousal support pending trial and another $9 million to pay her attorneys and accountants. In response, Frank McCourt asked the court to deny what he called her unreasonable requests and claimed she could more than cover her costs by selling or renting six residential properties and tapping $11 million in liquid assets.

Frank McCourt also alleged that Jamie McCourt has realized she has “no chance of prevailing” on her bid to invalidate an agreement that stipulates he is the sole owner of the Dodgers. As a result, he claimed, she is running up “an immense and unjustifiable” legal bill in the hope of delaying a trial as long as possible while securing a “truly outrageous and unsupportable” amount of monthly support in the meantime.

Bert Fields, an attorney for Jamie McCourt, said she remains confident she would win at trial. For now, he said,

the agreement restricts her to a small percentage of the couple’s assets, primarily the residential properties.

“He says she should have to eat into some of her only assets because he doesn’t want to support her,” Fields said.

The sides are scheduled to argue the spousal support issue in court March 29. The trial date could be set March 30.

Jamie McCourt asked the court for $988,845 in monthly living expenses. Those expenses should be valued at $237,167, according to an accountant representing Frank McCourt.

Since she no longer works for the Dodgers — Frank McCourt fired her as the chief executive in October —the accountant dismissed her requests for what he called Dodgers-related expenses and perquisites in the amount of $444,348 per month, including $248,778 per month for private jet travel. In a declaration, Frank McCourt said he had terminated the Dodgers’ contract for private jet service in a cost-cutting move.

Frank McCourt also said that Jamie had “unilaterally authorized her own salary increase” from $1 million in 2007 to $2 million in 2008. He said his salary is capped at $5 million because of bank restrictions and said he expects to pay at least $276,000 in taxes this year.

In her filing, Jamie McCourt had said the couple had not paid taxes since 2004. In his filing, Frank McCourt said he had used a tax deferment available to sports team owners when the couple bought the team.

Jamie McCourt had claimed Frank McCourt’s advisers had engaged in “blatant balance sheet manipulations” to deflate his net worth from $835 million to $163 million. His lawyers dismissed that contention as “absurd” and alleged her statements of net worth and liquid assets had declined without explanation. In Tuesday’s filing, McCourt declared his liquid assets at $480,041 and estimated hers at $11 million.

He also claimed she reneged in January on a sale of undeveloped property in Cabo San Lucas that would have enabled the McCourts to split $6 million in net proceeds.

Jamie McCourt’s filing revealed that Frank McCourt has not abandoned his hope of putting an NFL stadium in the Dodger Stadium parking lots. In his filing, Frank McCourt said he had accepted an NFL offer to buy four tickets for this year’s Super Bowl “in part to maintain a relationship with the NFL.”

bill.shaikin@latimes.com


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