Ignorance about finances can hurt you in divorce

A good deal of intelligence does not guarantee smarts when it comes to making decisions in divorce, especially when complex property division issues are at stake. Even in California, where it might seem that community property rules would make division issues simpler, the process of fairly dividing up assets can become daunting.

Whether the property division matters are simple or complex, the process of reaching a settlement on division is not something anyone should enter into without the benefit of skilled counsel from an array of professionals. And this is something that is admitted by no one less than the very bright Jamie McCourt.

Readers will remember McCourt as the one-time spouse and business partner of former Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team owner, Frank McCourt. This is a woman who has more letters after her name than the average person.

Her degrees include a bachelor's certificate from Georgetown and a University of Maryland law degree. She earned a master's of business administration from MIT. And yet in a recent speech at her last alma mater, McCourt admitted that when it came to her divorce a few years ago, "I could not have been more ignorant or naïve about my own financial situation, and I ended up paying dearly for that mistake."

The cost of that error can be seen in the results of the McCourt property division. She received $131 million. When the dodgers sold later for $2.1 billion, she returned to court claiming rights to half of that sum, but her effort failed.

Few divorces feature the kind of division of wealth as was seen in the McCourt case, and she few would say she is suffering. But valuation of property is something that affects every couple and being sure it's done properly and in a way that is truly fair is better achieved by working with an experienced attorney.

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