As the World Series was set to commence between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals on October 19, 2011, one of the biggest high profile Divorces in many years has come to a close between Jamie and Frank McCourt, who are co-owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The McCourt’s ownership of the Dodgers became the central theme of their California Divorce case. According to the Associated Press, “Frank and Jamie McCourt have reached a settlement in a feud over control of the Los Angeles Dodgers, paving the way for a showdown in bankruptcy court between the embattled team owner and Major League Baseball.”
As is common in many high profile divorce cases, whether in the entertainment/show business industry or in professional sports, settlements are often kept privileged until someone leaks the terms of the settlement to someone in the media. The McCourt settlement was released to the media on October 18, 2011, by, “a person familiar with the settlement,” on condition of anonymity. The usual, very private terms of a divorce settlement in the average case, is usually kept confidential. But in the world of entertainment and sports celebrities, those very private divorces often rock the media with sensational headlines. Such has been the case with McCourts and the LA Dodgers, one of Major League Baseball’s most storied franchises.
One of the ways to prevent the terms of a private divorce settlement is to reach “confidential” settlement agreements. Staying out of court and away from the spotlight is a goal of many professional athletes, movie stars, and team owners. Property settlement agreements and parenting plans that are filed with the court can be “sealed” under certain circumstances in many instances. Otherwise, when marriages end and the divorce court takes over, all of the usual ugly and very personal information are likely to be exposed in a very public divorce court, where judges seldom are willing to deny the media the right access under the First Amendment. While there are many reasons to avoid a public divorce trial, maintaining privacy and dignity must be a major factor whenever considering the value of a full and final divorce settlement.