News of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos’s amicable divorce took the internet by storm when they made the announcement early in 2019. Media outlets picked up on the story of the Amazon CEO’s impending divorce with even President Trump weighed in. The reason was the $137.1 billion estate that the couple would split in half under the community property rule in Washington State. New York follows a fair and equitable distribution of assets, which may better reflect the contribution each party made to the financial well being of the marriage. As it stands, MacKenzie’s share adds up to an estimated $66 billion.
Why no prenup?
Jeff and MacKenzie married in 1994, which was well before Jeff earned his first million dollars in 1997. Therefore, the massive wealth accumulated by Bezos is classified as jointly owned marital assets. This includes 16 percent of Amazon’s stock, ownership of the Washington Post, Whole Foods, Zappos and many other business entities as well 400,000 acres of land. It all adds up to an extremely complex estate that will take some time to accurately value and divide.
Of course there could have been a post-nuptial agreement drawn up as Amazon took off to become an online retail giant it now is, but that was not to be. Instead, the couple is keeping it amicable and claim they plan to remain friends.
Keeping the big picture in mind
Obviously marital maintenance, child support and dividing bank accounts are not issues the couple will have to think about. In fact, the health and control of Amazon as well as other business may prompt the couple to leave the assets, stocks and money where it is. This makes more sense than cashing out stock or ownership for the sake of a heated battle (Former L.A. Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt’s divorce battle pushed the team into bankruptcy and forced them to sell the team).
What we can learn from the Bezos divorce
Obviously family law is handled differently here in New York than in Washington State. Nevertheless, the couple’s amicable split and dividing the money in half make it less of an issue than if they were fighting. By keeping it friendly, they also likely ensure that the couple’s four children will maintain healthy relationships with both parents, and that in itself is something that money cannot buy.