Unless you have been on an extended hiatus from all media, the impending divorce of one-time NBC stalwart, Matt Lauer, and his wife, Annette Roque Lauer, has been a recurring presence in your media feed.
In summary, the twenty-year veteran of the oft first place, dominating morning show of the US, NBC’s The Today Show, was brusquely fired from his lead anchor position in November 2017 for alleged sexual misconduct. Surprising, absolutely. Shocking? Not to many who have worked with Mr. Lauer in his tenure as a perceived trusted authority and bastion of relevant news.
Cut to the details that are reportedly causing Mr. Lauer such emotional turmoil. In the wake of the onslaught of sexual misconduct allegations, Annette Roque Lauer and their 3 shared, minor children are center stage. Mrs. Lauer filed for divorce from Mr. Lauer in January, 2018.
Matt and Annette married in 1998, after dating less than 1 year.
Prior to the marriage, Annette Roque was a high-profile, sought-after model, representing brands such as J. Crew, Victoria’s Secret, and she was a Revlon Spokesmodel. Annette voluntarily abandoned her illustrious career in modeling to focus on being Matt’s wife and a mother to their eventual 3 children.
Now, let’s address the $50M potential divorce settlement.
The Lauer family resides in NY. In fact, they have multiple residences in NY, from Manhattan to The Hamptons, and a few lovely locales in-between.
NY is, like most states, a no-fault divorce state - meaning the claimant must simply state in the filing that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for a minimum of 6 months. What muddies the waters here, are several factors:
- Length of marriage (19 years)
- 3 minor children, residing primarily w Annette Roque
- Multiple high-value properties acquired during the marriage = Joint Property
- Brand Value (or absence thereof) of Matt Lauer
- Current and future legal claims against Mr. Lauer, a la #metoo, potentially diminishing the gross marital property quotient
Annette came to the marriage with a substantial career and promise of significant future earnings. She traded that career to focus on her family, thus allowing Matt Lauer to focus on his career and earnings.
In the face of a nineteen year marriage, a fifty-fifty split of marital assets is, by no means, unreasonable.
The reported $50M full and final payout (with a reported provision for children’s expenses to be equally split), is a productive and positive resolution, for many reasons. A “lump sum” payout would end the divorce, as a newsworthy entity, immediately.
The $50M consists of $25M in cash, the home in the Hamptons, as well as their horse ranch - which includes not only the property, but the complex asset portfolio of the land: assets ON the land (the horses and any other livestock residing therein).
The multiple, shared properties would not become litigious, as real estate in NY is consistently high-flying or fast-crashing; requests for modifications in support would not result in proverbial courtroom and media street fights; Mrs. Lauer avoids the risk of gross “community property” plummeting as a result of civil claims against Mr. Lauer for his alleged campaigns of sexual misconduct.
Matt Lauer has, or had, the crown jewel of Brand Value.
If Matt hocked it, we all bought it.
That Brand Value has reduced to lower than the lowest common denominator. However! It is reported that he has high hopes to reinvent. Who knows, Britney did it post-umbrella years, so I suppose anything is possible.
If Michael Vick could have a quasi-comeback, I suppose Matt Lauer can formulate some sort of resurgence. In the meantime, in this climate of sexual misconduct awareness and intolerance, there are many fitting clichés (please do comment with your own, I appreciate whip-smart humor), and I encourage the quickest, most painless resolution (financial, real property, custodial, etc.) for all parties- primarily the children.
In the face of blinding New York media glare and egregious claims, well…you need the very best divorce attorney.
Dror Bikel founded and leads Bikel & Schanfield, a leading Manhattan-based divorce and custody law firm with statewide practice. To connect with Dror: [hidden email] 212.682.6222