How divorce law applies to billionaire Jeff Bezos

by | Jan 24, 2019 | Divorce, Firm News

Many people in California and throughout the country have heard about the Jeff Bezos divorce story. The Amazon CEO is estimated to be worth $147 billion, and he and his wife did not have a prenuptial agreement. This means that their joint assets will probably be split as equally as possible under Washington’s community property rules. As a general rule, the goal is to create a fair division of assets even if the split isn’t exactly 50/50.

Ideally, the divorce settlement will result in both parties to the marriage being on equal financial footing for the rest of their lives. However, the Bezos case is likely to be a complicated one for the courts to manage. This is because the couple has a net worth that exceeds that of countries such as Jamaica and Estonia. Under Washington law, the courts cannot consider abusive or immoral behavior as a basis for distributing assets in a divorce.

There are ways to overcome the presumption that an asset acquired during a marriage is community property. However, an individual would need to show compelling evidence that this is not the case. Jeff Bezos started Amazon in 1994, which was a year after marrying his wife. Assuming that assets in the Bezos case are split evenly, his wife would likely become the richest woman in the world.

In a divorce, determining how to divide property may result in a protracted legal dispute. Creating a prenuptial agreement or any type of similar arrangement could help a couple avoid such a dispute. A legal agreement may clarify what happens to assets such as a house, car or joint debts. Working with legal counsel may also make it easier for a couple to work out a settlement that is reasonable and adheres to state law.