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Fort Myers Florida Family Law Legal Blog

Former 'Today' show host settles high net worth divorce

People in Florida may have been following the divorce of Matt Lauer, the former longtime host of NBC's "Today" show. Recently, Lauer and his estranged wife were able to settle their high-asset divorce. Lauer's estranged wife has filed paperwork with the court and the case is now awaiting a review by a judge. Once the judge has approved the filings, they will be entered with the court clerk's office. The divorce is uncontested.

According to one report, Lauer's estranged wife will retain $20 million in assets as well as a horse farm in the Hamptons. The couple also owns a mansion in North Haven. The couple married in 1998 and have three children together. It has been reported that the couple will share custody of the children.

Is it ever right to split up the kids in a divorce?

Divorce is a major life event for all involved — especially the kids. It's a major adjustment for them and they may need some therapy sessions to get through the transition.

But imagine how hard it would be if, in addition to "losing" a parent to divorce, the child also had to adjust to the loss of a sibling?

What is the role of a mediator in the divorce mediation process?

Sometimes a couple's marriage becomes so broken that the best option is for the couple to divorce. However, this doesn't mean the discord that lead to the end of the marriage has to carry on through the divorce process. Couples in Florida who want a more amicable split may want to try mediating their divorce first. Before making such a decision, it is important to understand the role of the mediator in a divorce.

First, the mediator is a neutral third party. He or she will not be making any binding decisions. While the mediator may provide information about the law, they will not advocate for either spouse or provide legal advice pertaining to either spouse's specific situation.

Floridians with significant wealth can benefit from prenups

When a person with a high-net worth is engaged to be married, they may want to consider entering into a prenuptial agreement, known as a premarital agreement in Florida. After all, some people have established high-paying careers, may own a home or may have received a substantial sum of money prior to getting married. Moreover, some people may anticipate earning a significant income while married or accumulating other valuable assets while married. Prenups are useful, because they can protect both spouses' financial interests in the event of a high net worth divorce.

First, prenups can designate which assets are to be separate assets and which assets are to be marital assets. This is significant when it comes to property division, because Florida is an "equitable distribution" state. This means that marital assets will be divided between the spouses in the event of a divorce, and it may not be an even 50/50 split. A prenup can designate an asset as separate property and thus not part of the divisible estate, even if that asset was acquired during the marriage.

Dividing the family home in the equitable distribution process

The family home is often one of the most valuable assets a couple in Fort Myers has. In addition, it can also have a lot of sentimental value. Therefore, if a couple decide to divorce, what to do with the family home is a major part of the equitable distribution process. Couples have several options when it comes to the family home and divorce.

Sometimes one spouse wants to keep the family home, especially if they have children. If so, they will have to refinance the home in their name only as well as buy out their ex's equity in the property, although buyouts can be negotiated. It is important to keep in mind, however, that there may be tax consequences if the house has appreciated when a spouse finally decides to sell it. The spouse keeping the home will also want to ensure they are able to meet the financial demands of homeownership on a single income, such as a mortgage, upkeep, taxes and insurance.

Why might one settle their divorce through collaborative law?

While some divorces are rancorous, resulting in a lengthy and emotionally draining courtroom show-down, many couples in Florida may want to part ways more amicably. These couples may be interested in settling their divorce through the collaborative law process.

The following is a brief overview of collaborative divorce, but as always, it is important to seek professional guidance to determine if this type of divorce is right for you.

Make the most of retirement benefits in divorce

It's a myth that 50% of married couples in America wind up getting divorced. In fact, current trends indicate that fewer couples are divorcing overall.

However, one demographic group is experiencing an uptick in divorce filings — couples age 50 and older. Bowling Green State University's National Center for Family & Marriage Research reports that the rise in so-called "gray divorces" is responsible for divorce rates that are now twice as high as those in 1990 for that demographic group.

A wife's income may affect her chance of a high net worth divorce

The gender wage gap may be closing at least for some people in Florida, and this may be seen by many as a good thing. However, does the amount of income a wife contributes to the household affect the relationship she has with her partner? One study examined this issue, and its findings may be especially significant when it comes to a high net worth divorce.

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 38% of married women in the U.S. have a higher income than their spouses. In fact, the Pew Research Center reports that of cohabitating couples in the U.S., in approximately one-third of those couples, women contribute 50% or more of the household earnings. This is significant, as it may a sign that women are increasingly being treated equally in the workplace.

How can Floridians divide the family business in a divorce?

Building a business from the ground up with your spouse can be a highly satisfying endeavor. However, even if a married couple's business flourishes, their marriage may not, and they may decide it is best to divorce.

In Florida, the family business, like other marital assets, is subject to equitable distribution in the property division process.

Can a high-conflict, high-asset divorce be mediated?

There are many benefits to mediating a high-asset divorce. For instance, couples in Florida with significant assets have a major stake in the outcome of the property division process. Mediation allows the parties to retain control over the outcome of the property division process, and they may also be able to keep the details of the settlement private. This may make the parties more satisfied with the outcome of their divorce.

However, not every divorce is amicable, especially when a couple has a significant amount of wealth that they both feel entitled to. They may find it impossible to even be in the same room as one another, much less engage in civil negotiations. In situations like this, is divorce mediation even an option?

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