Lessons to be Learned from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ Divorce
Amazon owner and founder Jeff Bezos is getting a divorce. It is likely that the divorce of the richest man in the world is different than your divorce, but there are still lessons to be learned from what the Bezos’ are going through.
The rumor is that the Bezos’ did not have a prenuptial agreement, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on the perspective.
In Florida, an equitable distribution state, judges can generally divide property, including a large, successful business, based on how much each partner contributed to the business’ wealth, success and growth.
The contributions do not have to be economic. For example, if the wife was at home raising children while the husband was growing a business, a court will recognize that one of the main reasons why the husband was able to expand the business was because of his wife staying home to raise kids. As such, the wife would be entitled to a large part of the business, even if she didn’t contribute any hard money into it.
A prenuptial agreement can avoid this situation, and would divide the business however the agreement says it is to be divided. Whether this is a benefit or not depends on who you are, but it’s a risk or a benefit to be aware of.
Stock Awards and Business Division
Sometimes when a business is divided, stock will be sold to the other spouse to pay the spouse for his or her share in the business. The other shareholders however may not know the spouse getting the shares, and this can create an uncomfortable situation where a hostile ex-spouse now owns a large share in the other spouse’s business.
Prenuptial agreements, divorce agreements, and corporate documents should all be drafted to insulate from this happening.
Alimony & Property
In some cases, division of valuable property such as companies can affect alimony. Alimony is based on need. However, if a spouse is getting millions of dollars in stock from a successful national company, a court may find there is no need for alimony.
Those with wealth will likely have collections and items that are rare and unique that will need division. Unless the parties agree who will take what, an expert must be found that will value the items so that the spouse keeping the item can pay the other spouse his or her share of it.
In some cases, the division will be 50-50, but even if an item was owned by a spouse before marriage, any appreciation in the item’s value may be considered marital property. Additionally, experts may be needed to appraise unique items such as cars, instruments, artwork, or anything considered rare and collectible.
Are you contemplating a divorce or wondering how to protect assets in the future if you are getting married? Our Tampa divorce attorneys at the Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group can help you handle these problems.