Founder and lead shareholder of Amazon.com Inc., Jeff Bezos, and wife, Mackenzie, have recently announced via social media that they will be divorcing after 25 years of marriage. Recognized as the wealthiest man in the world, Jeff Bezos possesses a net worth of nearly $137 billion, most of which he acquired during the course of his marriage. Many have been wondering what the outcome will be, considering that Bezos did not have a standing prenuptial agreement in place. As a result, the terms of their divorce may vary depending upon the state in which they dissolve their marriage.
With residences in several states across the country, the couple may have several different states in which they could file for divorce. Should the couple settle their divorce in a community-property state, Ms. Bezos could be walking away with half of all assets obtained during the course of their marriage. In most instances, a community-property state outlines that any finances or property accrued during a marriage, as well as any debt, will be the shared property and/or debts of both spouses. States that fall within the community-property category include Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, California, Wisconsin, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, and New Mexico; three of which, the Bezos’ currently own property in. While those living within these states have a clearer division of assets during a divorce proceeding than other states, most parties opting for separation, as opposed to divorce, do not have a clear-cut resolution. However, having a prenuptial agreement in place will help to alleviate the financial tension during and after a separation.
Additional property owned by the Bezos’ in equitable-distribution states such as New York could lead to a vastly different divorce proceeding than in community-property state. Equitable-distribution varies from community-property because the property is divided between spouses based on who earned/acquired the belongings and based upon what a judge determines in “fair and equitable”. There are a number of factors that are considered during distribution proceedings including the earning power of each spouse, the health and wellbeing of the lesser-earning spouse and child(ren), as well as the monetary benefits provided by child-rearing and homemaking. Within equitable-distribution states, there is no set division of assets as there is within states adhering to community-property rules. Each spouse will get their fair share, as so deemed by a judge.
To some, prenuptial agreements can seem impersonal and perhaps even a bit cold when compared to the traditional ideas of marriage. However, protecting your assets is often crucial. It is important to plan ahead when seeking to share your life with another person, even if that means planning for an amorous fallout. By implementing a prenuptial agreement, you can decide in advance what the terms of separation will be. Prenuptial agreements will protect your assets, especially when there is a wealth and/or income dispute between spouses, and can help ensure that the lesser-earning spouse is financially secure after the marriage has dissolved. Similarly, for those already married, a postnuptial agreement will dictate what happens in the event of a divorce or death and can be established at any point during a marriage. Both a prenuptial agreement and a post-nuptial agreement, will help to relieve the angst that can be caused by worries concerning the financial impact a divorce or separation can have on your family and allow you to focus on the love and/or dedication that brought you together in the first place.
If you or a loved one are looking to establish a prenuptial agreement before taking marital vows or, if you are currently married and would like to formulate a post-nuptial arrangement, the skilled attorneys at Fig Law, P.L.L.C. can help. To schedule a consultation with an experienced divorce and family law attorney, call our office at office or fill out our contact form.