Some thoughts on the Bezos divorce

The divorce of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie has had people buzzing since it was announced last week. And why not? After all, $160 billion— Mr. Bezos’s reported net worth—is a lot to fight over.


We’re all guessing whether or not the couple has a prenuptial agreement. It’s been reported there’s not one, and that’s quite likely: they’ve been married 25 years, and prenups only began to be widely discussed around the time Donald Trump divorced his first wife Ivana in 1992.

Even if the couple was smart enough to sign a prenuptial agreement, there will be a legion of accountants and lawyers dealing with billions of dollars in assets. The key difference, though, is that a prenup means the whole process will be less complicated, less timely, and less expensive.

Washington State, where the couple lives, is what’s called a community property state when it comes to divorce, in which marital property is typically split equally.  The money earned during the marriage is subject to equitable distribution; or community property.  Even if Ms. Bezos ends up getting less than 50% of the couple’s assets, she will be awarded a huge amount of money. I’ve spoken about this in several interviews, including in The New York Daily News

The key to their future settlement might well be their hope to keeping doing business together. Ms. Bezos, in all accounts, had an active role in the business; continued business together could provide a way for her soon-to-be ex-husband to throw her a piece of the action.

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