• Tampa couple that owns the Lightning is about to divorce and divide millions of dollars worth of assets

    Even couples who are well off financially and have a long history together without any serious problems can eventually grow apart and decide to separate. The owner of the NHL franchise The Tampa Bay Lightning is getting divorced from his wife after over thirty years of marriage.

    Owner of the city’s hockey team is separating from his wife

    The documents filed in the Hillsborough County Circuit Court simply say that the marriage is irretrievably broken without giving any specific detail. This means that the couple is likely going to file for a no fault divorce and attempting to keep the specifics private and out of the public eye. A spokesperson for the couple also emphasized a need for privacy as well.

    The couple had been well known as philanthropists in the Tampa area, and they have supported numerous charitable causes over the years. They had initially met decades ago while Jeff Vinik was studying at Harvard University as a graduate student. One night both of them were eating at the same restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and their relationship began. A few years later in 1987 they were married. Jeff had made a significant amount of his fortune while working for Fidelity Investments throughout his thirties. The couple had four children together, and all of them are adults now aged between their late teens and twenties.

    Vinik purchased the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise in 2010 for about $110 million, and the couple relocated to Florida to the Tampa area afterward. The divorce documents say that Vinik’s wife made a significant financial contribution to the couple’s wealth and assets over approximately 33 years of marriage. Vinik’s net worth was estimated to be about $500 million several years ago, but his wealth may have increased significantly. Much of this wealth is tied up in various corporations and partnerships, which can make it difficult to trace. As part of the divorce case, all of these holdings will likely have to be disclosed if they provide Jeff with any income.

    The court filings say that most of these assets are in Jeff’s name, but his wife should receive an equitable distribution of the estate that will be substantial. She is also asking for temporary alimony, in order to maintain her high standard of living that she is accustomed to after over 30 years of sharing in her husband’s wealth.

    One of the couple’s most significant financial ventures in recent years was an act of donating over $2 million to various local causes in Tampa and St. Petersburg for coronavirus relief during the 2020 pandemic. This included funds for food and rent assistance that went to Lightning employees, University of South Florida students, and the Metropolitan Ministries. Some other significant gifts included $5 million to USF’s business college, which was renamed for the Vinik couple, and another $5 million to the Tampa Museum of Art. A $2.5 million gift to a local Boys and Girls Club in the Tampa area from the Vinik couple was the largest single donation to the organization in its 90 year history. They also gave $1 million to a historic house that was important to the area’s civil rights movement. There is an acre of land that the couple bought which will be used for the USF College of Health and Medicine to expand with new buildings.

    Vinik’s wife is asking for a family court judge to grant temporary, exclusive use of two of their homes through her divorce attorney. One is in the southern part of Tampa, while the other is in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The filings further state that there are Porsche sport utility vehicles at both homes that she needs to access as well. In return, she is conceding exclusive use of a home in Sarasota, Florida to Jeff. The documents conclude by stating that she should have access to, and continued use of the couple’s private aircraft and charters in a manner consistent with their prior arrangements. At the time of the news report, the case was still pending and a judge had not yet ruled on any of these demands.

    Property division and wealthy couples

    When a couple in this situation divorces, property and assets are likely to be contested. It may take a significant amount of time for a court to go through all of their finances and property and determine what should be considered marital or separate before it is divided. A family court judge also has discretion to distribute this property in an equitable manner, which does not necessarily mean equal. Because of this uncertainty, legal representation from an experienced attorney is important.

    Talk to an attorney in your city today

    There are family law attorneys in the Tampa area who can assist you with divorces, child support, child custody, or any other related issues. To get immediate help from a licensed professional in Florida, contact The Law Offices of Yeazell and Sweet.