It has been reported that the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, has separated from and intends to divorce his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos. The Amazon founder and CEO has a net worth of approximately $137 billion causing people to speculate as to what the matrimonial financial settlement might be.
Bezos currently owns a 16% share in Amazon.com after founding the internet heavy weight in the early days of his marriage with MacKenzie. His wife is reported to have had a substantial impact on the growth of her husband’s company especially in these early days, even reportedly negotiating Amazon’s first freight contract amongst other key contributions. In addition, during the company’s ascent to internet domination, and in turn her husband’s development into the world’s richest man, MacKenzie spent much of her time parenting their young family whilst pursuing her own dreams as a novelist.
Whilst the law relating to divorce used in the United States is different than that which is employed in the United Kingdom parallels can still be drawn between the two. For instance, in the state of Washington, in the absence of pre-nuptial agreement, the starting point of the Court will be an equal division of the assets attributed to a long marriage. This is similar to the stance usually taken by the Courts in the United Kingdom where although limited guidance is available as to the implementation of a financial remedy, judges often employ their discretion in utilising the guiding principles laid down in White v White to find a fair and equitable solution in implementing a financial remedy.
Pervasive principles employed by the judiciary include the idea that financial and domestic contributions should be treated equally. In practice, this means that the Court would consider MacKenzie’s contribution within the home as equal to her Husband’s contributions financially, no matter how grandiose these contributions may be. In addition, the Court could seek to use ‘the yardstick of equality’ unless there is a very good reason to depart from the same. In practice this means that the Court could, potentially, seek to split the financial assets of the parties’ evenly. These are just two of the numerous factors considered within case law.
A financial remedy applied in the Bezos divorce could result in the application of the biggest divorce settlement in history. In fact, if MacKenzie Bezos receives half of her husband’s fortune she will receive the title of world’s richest woman in her own right.
This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.