Amazon.com Inc founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, who also happens to be the wealthiest person in the world, is in the midst of getting a divorce with his wife of 25 years, Mackenzie Bezos. As Jeff Bezos acquired such a fortune after founding Amazon, this also begs the question as to how his divorce settlement will be handled. The CEO and founder’s wealth soared to $160 billion for a time as his company remains one of the most valuable companies on Wall Street.
What will become of Jeff’s fortune following his divorce? The following sections will talk more about why Mackenzie Bezos may not get alimony and why a prenup may not make such a big difference.
Looking into Jeff and Mackenzie
As of the moment, Jeff holds around 16.1 percent stake at Amazon, amounting to almost $130 billion. Mackenzie, on the other hand, does not keep any Amazon shares directly. According to Forbes, Jeff’s current stake in the company gives him an overall net worth of around $137.1 billion.
It’s important to note that Jeff and Mackenzie posted a statement on Twitter to announce their divorce. Usually, when couples do this, it means that they have been working on the separation for quite some time. It also states that their lawyers – including their public relations teams – are working together to manage the attention of the public. Aside from wanting to minimize bad publicity, the couple also seems intent to let the world know that they are going about their divorce as civilly as possible.
While it’s impossible to expect the two parties to be completely friendly towards each other, public personalities like the Bezos need to protect their legacy and their children. A good divorce means a well thought out case. In the couple’s statement, they indicated that “[W]e see wonderful futures ahead as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects.” This means that the two of them decided that it is in their best interest to still be engaged in the company together – to retain their individual concerns. Jeff and Mackenzie also appeared to have agreed to continue being business partners. This will prevent them from selling their assets or from Jeff paying Mackenzie a hefty sum. The couple would be able to avoid too much publicity, full forensic accounting, and other inconveniences.
However, isn’t it obvious for the wife to just get the half of the fortune?
On Jeff’s Fortune
Washington State is considered as a community property jurisdiction. Generally, this means that the assets you acquire during your marriage will eventually be divided by the parties involved. Provided that you do not have any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and you cannot reach an agreement then the court will take over to see what each party will receive. However, do take note that “community property” in Washington State is not synonymous to “equal.” Rather, the assets will be weighed against what is “just and equitable” for all situations. If the court sees that Mr. Bezos was mostly responsible for accumulating the wealth, then it can be grounds for not granting the wife 50% of the assets.
What if they have a prenup?
Jeff and Mackenzie married in 1993, a time when prenups were not that usual. However, if they did draft one, then that prenup could not have anticipated the kind of wealth that they have today. So,regardless if there is a prenup, the court may not consider its terms as just or fair, since the couple’s situation is considerably different now than when they drafted it. The prenup may not be as enforceable in this situation.
Nonetheless, the couple has five homes which means they can get divorced outside of Washington. These can include California or New York. Even so, it would be surprising if the parties do not agree to a settlement given the magnitude of the fortune at stake.
As for alimony, it can be hard to imagine a situation wherein Mackenzie gets alimony. You must consider the amount involved in the case. If, for example, she gets around 1 billion dollars, the interest alone would cover any conceivable family and lifestyle expenses.
Both parties will have legal teams and a lead lawyer. If they disagree on the money issue then they can engage a neutral forensic accountant. Both sides should recognize this person and let that third party come up with an estimate of their assets.
It can be quite frustrating for wealthy couples to go through the same or nearly the same thing as Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos. When dealing with any issue or dispute related to your family or loved ones, sensitive matters can escalate and become complicated quickly.
The more there is at stake, the more you need to have an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that you obtain a fair outcome. Goldman Law, LLC, has a team of highly skilled family law attorneys who can help you resolve these kind of cases successfully.