Most people with a TV or Internet access know by now that, after 25 years together, Jeff Bezos and his wife, Mackenzie, are getting divorced. Although they are ending their marriage, they have both stated that they are splitting on good terms and wish for “wonderful futures ahead” for themselves and their four children.
This is not the first time a public figure, politician or wealthy individual created a stir with their marital woes. However, this could be the first time someone’s divorce involves a personal fortune that outweighs the gross national product of several countries.
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com in 1995 with the goal of selling books over the Internet. Although his idea seems hardly revolutionary today, the company was founded at a time when many people still believed the Internet, and the personal computers that accessed it, was just a fad that would not be sustained long-term.
Of course, it did not blow over. In fact, it could be argued that Bezos’ creation helped drive the Internet’s explosion into the lives of nearly every man, woman and child across West Michigan, and beyond.
Jeff Bezos became the world’s richest man in late October 2017, when his $90 billion fortune surpassed that of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and many others. Today, Bezos’net worth is estimated at more than $150 billion dollars.
Bezos owns 16% of Amazon.com, which makes him the company’s largest shareholder. In the latter part of 2017, an incredible increase in Amazon’s stock value nearly doubled his net worth, generating approximately $78 billion in income in one year. Using that figure as his annual income, Bezos earned more than $8 million an hour.
What does all of this mean for Mackenzie Bezos, who married the Amazon.com founder when the company was still a back of the napkin idea? More than just Jeff Bezos’ wife and mother to their four children, Mackenzie Bezos was an instrumental part in Amazon’s launch, even acting as the company’s first accountant.
Since the couple’s primary residence is in Washington state, any asset acquired during their marriage is considered “community property” and is subject to a 50-50 split. However, any division of the couple’s unusual fortune could have a negative effect on Amazon.com’s stock price, and potentially each spouse’s net worth. Although each spouse will retain a divorce lawyer, it’s likely that the Bezos’ will come to an agreement out of court.
Although there is a great deal of speculation about their divorce, it is unlikely that Jeff or Mackenzie Bezos will be left struggling. If she receives even half of their wealth, Mackenzie could easily become the richest woman in the world by the time the dust settles. However, even if she is awarded “only” 1/10 of the couple’s wealth, her net worth could exceed $15 billion dollars.
With options such as Collaborative Divorce available today, it would be interesting to speculate on which path forward the Bezos’ will take, especially given their apparent willingness to end things on good terms. A statement released on Jeff Bezos’ Twitter account even read, “After a period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends.”
With over $150 billion at their disposal, you might think they could find a way to work through their differences and survive any marital speedbumps. Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos, however, are proof that, as the saying goes, money cannot buy happiness.
If you are considering divorce, it is important to educate yourself on the process and options available today. Please contact the experienced Grand Rapids divorce attorneys at Johnsen Wikander today and let us help you through your most difficult time.