The world’s richest man, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, announced that he and his wife are calling it quits. After 25 years of marriage, four children and the creation of one of the world’s largest companies, the couple is seeking a divorce. They said they will leave their marriage on good terms, remaining friends.
The focus of the divorce will undoubtedly be the division of the couple’s enormous financial holdings. Unlike Connecticut, which is an equitable division state, the couple’s home state is a community property state. Under community property laws, all property acquired after the date of the marriage is considered community property, regardless of how it is treated during the marriage. There is no separate personal property. This means that at the time of divorce the property is usually divided in half between the two spouses.
The Bezoses reportedly don’t have a prenuptial agreement. If this is true, there are two likely options regarding the division of their assets. The first possibility is that since they are planning to remain close friends the couple has come to their own agreement about how they will split their wealth. If they aren’t able to come to an agreement on their own, a judge will likely divide it for them, possibly granting close to half of the assets to each spouse.
The couple was married 25 years ago, and Amazon was founded shortly thereafter. Since then, Jeff Bezos has accumulated an unmatched net worth of $137 billion. He owns over 16.3 percent of Amazon’s 477 million shares. If his wife, MacKenzie, is granted half of all of the assets including half of the stock, she will become the world’s richest woman and will still hold more shares of Amazon stock than the second-largest stakeholder, who has 6 million shares.
The results of the Bezoses’ divorce will be of importance to shareholders in Connecticut and around the world. While most divorces don’t have this type of significant impact on others or involve the division of billions of dollars, each divorce is just as important to those involved. Anyone considering divorce should seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can help protect his or her interests.