The divorce of Jeff Bezos and his wife has amassed thousands of news stories, but now that they have reached an agreement, what have we learnt from such a high-profile high-net-worth divorce?
Jeff Bezos is the CEO and Founder of Amazon, a company he established on July 5th 1994 and that went on to become an eCommerce giant. He is currently the wealthiest man alive and the first person to accumulate a $100 billion (£80.6 billion) fortune, which now stands at $137 billion (£109.6 billion). With that said, his financial situation is about to change following his recent divorce.
In this post, we discuss a few takeaways from the divorce case involving a high-profile individual who literally has more money than anyone else in the world.
1. Adultery Can Cost You
The divorce came off the back of the discovery that Jeff Bezos had been having an affair with a long-standing mistress. While this isn’t a crime, it is one of the five grounds for divorce accepted by the court. Betrayal, mistrust and hostility are all traits of an adultery divorce. In these cases, the betrayed spouse is often highly motivated to take as much as possible from their partner — rather than an equal share, as you’d more commonly see in an amicable divorce. It’s clear that cheating on your spouse won’t just have an impact on your relationships — it can considerably affect your finances, too.
2. Get a Prenuptial Agreement
The majority of Jeff Bezos’s fortune was accumulated during his marriage, and although even he probably couldn’t have imagined he would enjoy such grand success, one of the main things to take away from this high-net-worth divorce is how vital a prenuptial agreement can be. Although not legally binding, a prenup will demonstrate to the court that both you and your spouse agreed on a plan for your assets in the event of a divorce, providing a blueprint on (or, at least, a good idea of) how to divide matrimonial assets.
3. Business Assets Are an Efficient Bargaining Tool
Although many people would have expected MacKenzie Bezos to go for the jugular and take her share of every single asset her husband had accumulated over the years, she handled the divorce in a logical and business-minded way. She has business ambitions of her own, which require exceptional funding. Instead, then, she opted to hand over all her interests in The Washington Post and Blue Origin, and will give 75% of her stake in Amazon and all voting rights to Jeff — in return for an estimated $36 billion settlement and 4% stake in Amazon.
This is a perfect example of a spouse who despite having business interests in a company, still recognises its value and how they can be compensated for giving full control to their spouse. Ask any business owner — they would rather buy their partner’s shares than sell or dissolve the company they’ve invested so much in building.
4. Divorce on Good Terms Benefits Both Parties
The breakdown of a marriage and subsequent divorce tends to be a very stressful and challenging experience, often creating hostility or a sense of bitterness both during and after. While this may be a natural reaction to the events leading up to the dissolution, you’ll find that being able to separate from your spouse on good terms will benefit both of you.
Despite the adultery and a very public break up, Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos put aside their grievances and worked out a settlement that would be fair to both parties. Doing so ensured that both themselves and their children wouldn’t be drastically affected by the divorce — in terms of both finances and, vitally, emotional trauma.
Are you a high-net-worth individual looking to get divorced? KMJ Solicitors is well-versed in all areas of family law, including high-net-worth divorce, and can provide specialist advice and guidance to support you. Find out where you stand and get a free personalised information pack in minutes.