Moores’ Southern California Divorce Case Shows That You Can’t Play With the Courts

Southern California’s other baseball-focused divorce case returned to the headlines last week. Amid LA’s fixation on the high profile break-up of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie, many readers may have forgotten about the similar, if somewhat lower-decibel, drama playing out south of us in San Diego.

The San Diego case revolves around Padres owner John Moores and his wife of 47 years, Becky. Unlike the McCourts, the Moores have worked hard to keep their California divorce out of the public eye. The Moores case, however, has loomed over LA and the McCourts for one simple reason: the still-pending divorce appears to have been the driving force behind John Moores’ decision to sell his baseball team – an outcome that has led many a Dodgers fan to wonder if LA is headed for a similar fate.

The latest legal lesson to emerge from the San Diego case, however, has nothing to do with baseball. Instead it concerns how a couple in the midst of a San Diego, Los Angeles or Orange County divorce ought to deal with the court system. As the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, the Moores’ appear to have fallen foul of the judge assigned to oversee their case. Back in March the judge called off a public trial when the publicity-shy couple reported that they had reached a Southern California divorce settlement. Eight months, and four scrubbed court dates later, however, the judge still has not seen this settlement. As the Union-Tribune notes, each hearing scheduled to review and finalize the settlement has been cancelled when lawyers for the couple suddenly announced they needed more time to complete the paperwork. Now, the judge has issued an ultimatum: produce the long-delayed final settlement or prepare for a public trial.

Perhaps this shouldn’t really be a surprise. Though the Moores’ have been claiming since last spring that things between them are more-or-less settled, the paper notes that “several disagreements over access to witnesses and assets have complicated a case that was already so complex that it required the hiring of forensic accountants.” Add to that the fact that the judge, last year, “threatened to hire an expensive referee to deal with [the Moores’] disagreements” and we can speculate, in retrospect, that matters may not have been as settled last March as the Moores’ wanted the public, or the judge, to believe.

Managing the technicalities of the legal process is one of the most important services an Orange County divorce attorney can offer clients. Dragging a case out may sometimes seem attractive to a client, but it is always important to consider the broader picture – including the attitude the courts or a particular judge may take toward repeated cancellations or postponements of court dates. Clients often think of divorce lawyers mainly in terms of personal representation during adversarial proceedings – but this detailed knowledge of the court system and the advice an Orange County divorce attorney can offer on the best ways to manage your interaction with the court system itself should be a key consideration in choosing an experienced Orange County family law attorney.

San Diego Union-Tribune: Moores divorce could be headed back to trial

San Diego Union-Tribune: John and Becky Moores reach divorce settlement