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The unique nuances of super-wealthy divorces

Mon 14 Jan, 2019 / by / Divorce

Many people in Illinois have likely caught wind of the news concerning the divorce of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife. The pair, who announced their spit via social media, have been together for 25 years. During that time, they’ve amassed more than $100 billion in assets that will need to be divided among them. In addition to the big dollar amounts involved, there are other notable differences between super-wealthy divorces and more traditional splits among couples with fewer assets.

For starters, it’s not unusual for a high-asset divorce like this to be settled out of court for the sake of privacy. Putting a price tag on assets can also be a challenge. Wealthy couples often have things like rare collector’s items, specially designed trinkets, and bank accounts in remote island paradises that can be difficult to assess. There’s also the issue of business-related assets.

If a wealthy couple tied the knot when a business was just getting off the ground, as is the case with the Amazon founder and his soon-to-be-ex, then the company’s earnings may be considered joint assets. One possible solution would be for each partner to receive a sizeable chunk of the company’s stock. Another option is to transfer the stock to a single entity and allow each party to have joint control over it. Location also matters when it comes to how assets are split. The Bezoses live in a community proper state, which means marital assets would be split 50/50.

It’s also unlikely that a high net worth couple would have to worry about one spouse seeking alimony if they have their own sizable bank account. Also, if an attorney had drafted a prenuptial agreement, community property laws would take a backseat to whatever was agreed upon. There have also been rumors that Mr. Bezos had an affair during the marriage, although this usually doesn’t affect how assets are split. But if a lawyer were to prove that marital assets were used to cover expenses related to that affair, the jilted ex may be entitled to at least half of what was spent.