News Column

Lanzas' Divorce Papers Offer Insight Into Adam

Dec 18, 2012

By Donna Leinwand Leger

When Nancy and Peter Lanza divorced three years ago, Nancy Lanza got $240,000 a year in alimony and primary custody of the teenage son who last week committed one of the most gruesome crimes in U.S. history.

Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shot his mother in her bed Friday before driving her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School and killing 20 children and six adults. He shot himself in the head as police arrived.

Nancy Lanza, 52, filed for divorce from Peter Lanza on Dec. 9, 2008, in Stamford, Conn., saying "the marriage has broken down irretrievably and there is no possibility of getting back together," according to court records. The couple had already separated and Peter Lanza was living in an apartment in Stamford.

The Stamford law firm of Piazza, Simmons & Grant, which represented Nancy Lanza in the divorce, said in a statement Monday that she "was always courteous and polite. She was an intelligent woman."

Court papers provide some insight into the family history. Nancy Jean Champion and Peter John Lanza married on June 6, 1981, in Kingston, N.H. Their son Ryan John Lanza, 24, an accountant living in Hoboken, N.J., was born April 10, 1988.

Adam Peter Lanza was born April 22, 1992.

In the divorce, Nancy Lanza asked for a fair division of property, alimony, child support, support for her sons' college educations and joint legal custody. The divorce became final Sept. 23, 2009.

Peter Lanza, 54, is tax director and vice president for taxes at GE Energy Financial Services in Stamford, according to his LinkedIn profile. He previously worked as a senior tax manager at Ernst & Young. He has since married a university librarian.

At the time of the divorce, Peter Lanza earned $8,556 a week. He agreed to pay annual alimony in 2010 of $240,000 with increases each year. In 2012, Lanza paid his ex-wife $289,800. After 2016, Nancy Lanza would get annual cost-of-living increases based on the 2015 alimony payment of $298,000 a year until Peter Lanza retired.

There seemed to be nothing acrimonious about the divorce. Peter Lanza agreed to maintain a $3 million life insurance policy with his ex-wife as the beneficiary.

The couple also divided their nine-game season ticket plan for the Boston Red Sox, with Nancy Lanza having the two tickets for five games on odd years and four games on even years. The couple agreed to divide any post-season tickets "fairly as they have done in previous years," court papers noted.

Peter Lanza transferred ownership of their Yogananda Street house in Sandy Hook to Nancy Lanza. The court instructed Nancy Lanza to either sell the house or refinance the mortgage.

Nancy Lanza "did not have to work," said Gregory McAvoy, a local radio host. McAvoy chatted with her often at My Place, a restaurant and bar that Lanza frequented. "She did a lot of charity work. Nancy was just a regular person."

Contributing: Kevin McCoy, Gary Stoller

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2012

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