The Bezos Divorce: A Lesson Learned

Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019 by Marc Beyer and is filed under Divorce,  Finances,  Marriage,  Mediation.

Following a 25-year marriage, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos divorced earlier this year. As the Founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff is the richest man in the world. The divorce settlement gave MacKenzie $35.7 billion worth of shares in Amazon, making her the world’s 4th richest woman.

According to MacKenzie’s Twitter post:

“Grateful to have finished the process of dissolving my marriage with Jeff with support from each other and everyone who reached out to us in kindness, and looking forward to next phase as co-parents and friends. Happy to be giving him all of my interests in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, and 75% of our Amazon stock plus voting control of my shares to support his continued contributions with the teams of these incredible companies. Excited about my own plans. Grateful for the past as I look forward to what comes next.”

But MacKenzie’s award could have been much larger. The State of Washington (where the case was venued), like Minnesota, requires a “just and equitable division” of the marital estate, which almost always means equal. By all accounts, then, by receiving “only” 25% of the
Amazon stock, MacKenzie could have received more than double the settlement she actually received.

So, why didn’t she? In the end, only she can answer that question. The law would have supported it, and Jeff’s lawyers would have done well to so advise him.

From her Twitter post, though, despite Jeff’s reported affair, she doesn’t exactly sound like a woman scorned. She apparently wasn’t motivated by revenge or a desire to “get even.” If ever there was a couple who could afford endless attorney’s fees to fight about anything and everything, this was that couple.

Smart people do smart things with their money, though. Jeff and MacKenzie did not become the world’s richest couple by making poor decisions. For whatever reason, she chose not to pursue the additional settlement (no one is feeling sorry for her).

The point is this: Even the world’s richest couple can divorce amicably. With the advice of counsel, you have to decide for yourself what is important. Just because you have a lot of assets does not mean that you have to spend a fortune fighting over them.

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