How divorce law applies to billionaire Jeff Bezos

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.