Bezos Divorce May Take A Preordained Path Agreed To By The Couple

The richest couple in the world are getting a divorce. They are residents of Washington state and after getting married 25 years ago, they launched a startup called Amazon. Jeff Bezos announced by a tweet on Jan. 9 that he and wife MacKenzie are getting a divorce but will remain a family and will always be “cherished friends.” They have four children.

The emphasis on remaining a family is a wise characterization that indicates continuity and, as such, will assist in minimizing the trauma to the children. Details on the custodial arrangements and financial support of any minor children were not revealed. With respect to property division, it is notable that Washington is a community property state, which means that all property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be owned on an equal basis.

Knowledgeable observers indicate that the couple does not have a prenuptial agreement. That may be considered a mistake from the husband’s perspective under these circumstances, but where a couple does not choose to have a prenup, that is their choice and not one that needs to be second-guessed. Generally, the prenup is an enforceable contract that protects the assets of the wealthier spouse from being open to claims by the less wealthy spouse. In this case, however, MacKenzie reportedly assisted Jeff in setting up and administering the growth of Amazon.

Under the divorce laws of the state of Washington, the preceding fact increases the equities in her favor and can only strengthen her claims for an equal division of the community property acquired during the marriage. If there is a settlement that attempts to bring about an equal division, that would make MacKenzie the world’s richest woman. However, in order to raise that amount of cash, Jeff would have to liquidate a great number of his shares of voting stock, thus exposing himself to being deposed as the leader of Amazon. It is more likely that the parties have agreed not to require it because they both will benefit from the continued growth of Amazon.  

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The Law Offices of Stacy D. Heard, PLLC

Stacy Heard is an accomplished and well-respected family law attorney in Seattle, Washington who has served clients for over 20 years. Stacy specializes in matrimonial and family law. She handles matters of divorce, high-conflict parenting plan/child custody issues, international custody disputes and Hague Convention cases, complex financial issues, relocation, restraining orders, child support, and modifications of Parenting Plans and Child Support Orders.

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