According to People, former Today Show anchor, Matt Lauer, is finalizing his divorce with Annette Roque. The settlement is rumored to involve him paying his wife up to $20 million. The details of the property division however is unknown, but is a reminder that divorce property division laws in Florida recently changed in a big way.
Good Morning Property Divisions
According to People, the couple, who wed 20 years ago in 1998, has agreed to share custody of their children. He is rumored to have a lot of guilt and wants to make sure Annette is taken care of.
They seem happier and their family and friends are thrilled to see they are both moving forward.”
Left unsaid in the article is what happens to the $7 million coop in New York City, the Hamptons beachfront estate he bought for $36 million from actor Richard Gere, his Sag Harbor home, and other properties.
Florida Property Division . . . and Friends
I’ve written about property division before. Property division, or equitable distribution as it is called in Florida, is governed by statute and case law.
Generally, courts set apart to each spouse their non-marital assets and debts, and then distribute the marital assets and debts between the parties.
Marital assets and liabilities include, in part, assets acquired and liabilities incurred during the marriage, individually by either spouse or jointly by them.
Passive Appreciation and Morning Joe
Passive appreciation of a nonmarital asset may also be a marital asset the court must equitably distribute. For example, Lauer bought his upper East Side apartment for roughly $6 million, but has it listed for over $7 million.
In 2010, the Florida Supreme Court held that “passive appreciation of a nonmarital asset … is properly considered a marital asset where marital funds or the efforts of either party contributed to the appreciation.”
The Florida Supreme Court created a formula for courts to use in determining the value of the passive appreciation of nonmarital real property for equitable distribution.
But the formula was flawed because there is no relationship between the amount of marital funds used to pay down a mortgage during a marriage, and the passive appreciation of the property.
Also, the case requires a nonowner spouse to have made contributions to the property as a prerequisite to sharing in the passive appreciation of the property.
Live with Kaaa
Recently, Governor Scott signed a bill to fix the problem. The bill amends our equitable distribution statute and establishes a statutory formula for courts to use.
The new statutory formula does not require the nonowner spouse to have made contributions to the property, and also bars the marital portion of nonmarital real property from exceeding the total net equity of the property on the valuation date in the divorce action.
The People article is available here.