Monthly Archives: June 2008

MLB divorce

I like to say there are not too many issues in divorce cases that I haven’t dealt with, but here is one: who gets custody of the MLB franchise? John and Becky Moores own the San Diego Padres and are in the middle of a divorce in California.

If their name is familiar it might be because they have donated a lot of money to the University of Houston where they met. In 1991 they gave over $50 million to the school.

Their situation is really not unlike that of a lot of couples who own a business that makes up the vast majority of their overall estate. The dilemma is how to equitably divide an estate when it is predominantly made up of a single asset that is nearly impossible to divide. One possibility is for each party to be awarded a share of the business, although the idea of ex’s being business partners post-divorce is not an ideal situation either.

It is one thing to have an estate that is made up primarily of a 401(k) or a brokerage account. Those kinds of assets are relatively easy to divide, especially non-retirement accounts. But things get sticky when the primary asset is something really illiquid, like a business. In that scenario, if one party is very involved in the business and the other side is not, it is often a foregone conclusion who it should be awarded to. Then the issue becomes accurately valuing the business and determining how the other party will be compensated for their share.

Sometimes the only practical solution is to sell the business and liquidate the value so that it can be divided. Probably the Moores, both of whom are supposedly very involved with the day to day operations of the Padres, are trying to avoid this result (they have already publicly stated that they won’t sell).

Hopefully they can work out a solution that is acceptable to both of them. Regardless, the franchise has an estimated value of $385 million, so we shouldn’t feel too sorry for them.



Divorce Cost

Kelly Chang is a Los Angeles family law attorney.  She wrote an excellent post on how dramatically the overall cost of a divorce can vary and what factors contribute.  However, as Kelly points out, how responsive a client is and how well they follow instructions and take your advice can play a significant role in the overall cost.

Divorce Planning

Here is a link to Al Nye’s excellent Maine Divorce Law Blog. The post is entitled ” A Dozen Things to Consider Before Divorcing.” In it he gives some great advice for anyone considering divorce. Especially on the money are his tips for obtaining as much of the financial records and details as you can get before actually filing.

Relocation Cases

Here is an interesting post about relocation cases in the state of Nevada. The author is a college professor in Nevada who blogs about his divorce experience. He describes the relocation statute and how, in his opinion, it is usually applied in a way that allows the custodial parent to move the child away from the non-custodial parent.

The Nevada statute gives very specific guidance to the court making such a decision but some of the factors seem rather weak to me. For example, the statute lists factors the court should consider in making its decision, including “whether housing and environmental living conditions will be improved,” and “whether the custodial parent’s employment and income will improve.”

The Texas Family Code has a statute that requires that all orders naming the parties as joint managing conservators (typically, divorce and paternity cases) to give the exclusive right to establish residence to one parent (this is generally what determines which parent is “primary”). That statute further requires that the order state whether the residency is restricted to a specific geographical area (and if so what area) or that there is no geographical restriction. The vast majority of Texas cases include a geographical restriction. A typical example would be a restriction to Harris County, Texas and the contiguous (surrounding) counties.

Unlike Nevada, the Texas Family Code does not provide any specific guidance as to how the courts are to determine relocation cases. So when a custodial parent with a residency restriction wants to move that parent would file a petition to modify, essentially asking the court to remove the restriction. Ultimately, the standard applied by the court in deciding the case would be whether the move was in the child’s best interest.

Although a lot of factors would be considered, in most cases the biggest factor is how involved the non-custodial parent was in the child’s life. If that parent was very involved with child, the custodial parent probably would have a difficult case to win. If the non-custodial parent was uninvolved, the custodial parent would have a much stronger case.