Corporate divorces usually don’t generate much attention in Pennsylvania or elsewhere in the country unless high-profile people are involved. One such individual is Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, who announced plans to split from his wife of 25 years in early 2019. As the pair begins the process of dividing up assets estimated at nearly $140 billion, the buzz surrounding their spit has put a spotlight on the unique dynamics of high-asset divorces.
One noticeable difference in a divorce involving a wealthy couple is the nature of joint assets. Oftentimes, funds are in sizeable stock options. Asset division can also get complicated if there are things like rare collectibles or stocks held in overseas accounts that need to be assigned a specific value. The physical location of the couple also affects asset distribution. In this instance, the Bezoses reside in a community property state where assets are split in half. However, the exact distribution may vary based on who contributed what to marital assets.
While a prenuptial agreement would take precedence over state laws, it’s been reported that the Bezoses didn’t have such a document. Even if one did exist, it would likely be challenged since it was during the marriage that Amazon took off. As for how business-related assets may be split, one option is to divide stock options equally, which would make Mrs. Bezos the wealthiest woman in the world. Another possibility is to transfer stocks into a single entity, so the former spouses would have joint control. If a post-marital agreement exists, it would only apply to assets accumulated after it was signed.
In a more traditional type of divorce, alimony is often a point of contention. However, in a complex divorce, where both parties have significant funds, spousal support is usually not a common request. If it is, support payments could end up taking away a sizeable chunk of a divorcing person’s assets. During the settlement process, there’s often a desire to settle out of court. A lawyer might tackle this request by attempting to find a happy medium when it comes to settlement demands and asset division.