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Murdoch divorce amicable and property division smooth

Media baron Rupert Murdoch and wife have separated amicably and are headed toward divorce. He will keep a slew of multimillion-dollar properties, and she will take a penthouse bought eight years ago for $44 million. They also agreed to put the family yacht up for sale.

Murdoch filed for divorce from third wife in June.

As any hard-working Tennessean knows, not everyone can bankroll a fairytale divorce. Property division is usually far more complicated and strife-ridden with mortgages, retirement accounts and complex asset valuations to grapple with.

Murdoch will retain ownership of his primary New York residence and several California estates, including a vineyard. Murdoch's wife and their two preteen daughters will get the New York penthouse that was acquired six years after the couple's 1998 marriage.

Apparently Murdoch did not want his daughters dislodged from their home. In what could be a deviation from equitable division, he did not alter the structure of the Murdoch family trust, leaving the two girls out. The trust, which holds 38 percent of the voting stock in his $13-billion empire, will be divided among Murdoch's four children from previous marriages.

The separation may have been amicable because the couple had signed two prenuptial and two postnuptial agreements. If these agreements had not existed and there had been a dispute, the court with divorce jurisdiction would have been forced to decide who received what.

Tennessee state law mandates equitable distribution. Courts assess which property and debt is marital -- that is, acquired during marriage -- and which is separate. Following this rule, a court puts a valuation on each item and looks at issues like age, employability, each spouse's economic situation and their contribution to acquiring assets before arriving at what it determines to be a fair and equitable distribution of marital assets.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Rupert Murdoch finalizing divorce; Wendi Murdoch keeps NY apartment," Meg James, Nov.19, 2013

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