….and they don’t come bigger than that of the world’s richest man, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (aged 54). Mr Bezos’ current net worth of $137 billion (approximately £107 billion) will be shared with his wife (aged 48).
Their divorce will be dealt with under the state laws of Washington which operates a “community property” model meaning anything built up during the marriage will be owned equally and would need to be divided in a fair manner. However even if Mrs Bezos was to get a third of the wealth it would still make her the richest women in the world!
It isn’t known whether a prenuptial agreement is in place, when the couple married 25 years ago they were both relatively young and only starting out in their careers and possibly gave little thought to financial matters. They have four children also to be taken into account.
Rhona Royle, Head of Family Law at Wrigley Claydon Solicitors in Oldham, Todmorden and Manchester explains that Prenuptial Agreements or “Prenups” are not currently binding in England or Wales but where one exists its contents can be taken into account as one circumstance of the case.
The divorce court retains discretion as to what order to approve as being “fair and reasonable” to both parties.
They are however becoming increasingly more popular where parties going into a marriage want to try to protect family wealth or to keep one’s own assets. Where there has been prior a marriage and a wish to protect assets for the children of the first marriage they are advisable.
Another reason to enter into one is to create certainty (so far as it is possible to do so).
To give the best chance of the terms of such an agreement being found reasonable the parties ought to fully and frankly disclose their financial circumstances to the other, each should have the benefit of independent legal advice and there should have been no pressure placed to enter into it.
The Bezos may very well have already agreed a financial settlement prior to the public statement of their intended divorce and if so, the terms are not likely to be made public.