How Washington Could Play a Major Role in Jeff and MacKenzie's Divorce
by Ande Frazier
January 31, 2019 .2 min read
If you’ve seen the news lately, you likely would have seen that the recent announcement that Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announced the split of their 25-year marriage. This announcement has led to numerous statements that this could be the most expensive divorce in history.
“As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends."
Jeff and MacKenzie married in 1993, the year before Jeff started Amazon. To-date, Amazon is valued at $800 billion and with Bezos’ other companies coming into play, this couples fortune is estimated to be around $140 billion dollars.
Since Bezos is the richest person in the world, this is expected to be one of the most notable settlements in history. Bezos and his estranged wife reside in Washington, one of the handful of states that utilize the “community property" approach. So, what does that mean for Jeff and MacKenzie?
For more insight, myWorth talked to Sabra R. Sasson, an attorney and mediator practicing in New York City. Sabra employs her skills and experience to help her clients focus on life post-divorce and guide them through the process to get there.
Dividing up billions can be a task and according to a recent study by myWorth, only four out of ten women are prepared for this type of event. So we asked Sabra to define how living in a community property state impacts this already complex process. Sabra says,
“anything and everything that was ever acquired during the marriage is defined as community property and can be divided 50/50."
To further explain Sabra says,
“since they got married in ‘93, and Amazon was founded in ‘94, Amazon is going to be considered community property, along with all the other companies Jeff has bought along the way. This means all their assets will be split."
But what about the rumors of infidelity? This could also affect the divorce as Sabra explains,
“MacKenzie may have a lot of ill feelings about the infidelity, so if she decides not to be cooperative, Jeff may decide to give her more so that his reputation and business are not negatively impacted."
Because this couple has kept the details of their relationship private for so long, we can only really guess at what is to come. We don’t know if they have a prenup or postnup, or the details of who is representing the couple. But due to the nature of the divorce laws in Washington, we do know that the marital asset will be split evenly unless some other arrangement is made.
Regardless, this should make for an interesting case study for how community property states handle divorces. myWorth will continue to monitor the progress of the Bezos divorce and bring to you any latest developments that might impact how you approach this situation in your own life.
Ande began her 20+ year career as an adviser and quickly realized that many people weren’t taking into account was how emotions play a huge factor in financial decision making. Leaving behind her practice to focus solely on educating both advisers and consumers alike, she became an expert in behavioral finance. Author, speaker, thought leader, and money educator, Ande is helping women to take control of their money.