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Law Office of Gary R. Swavely, Jr. Blog

Thursday, February 28, 2019

How Will Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos Spilt Up Their Fortune?

You have probably heard the news that Jeff Bezos, the man who founded Amazon, and his wife MacKenzie are getting a divorce. If you missed the initial announcement, which was made via Twitter, you probably learned about the marital life of the world’s richest couple when Jeff got into a very public fight with the National Enquirer.

The Enquirer revealed Jeff is having an affair with television personality Lauren Sanchez. The story included copies of private messages between Sanchez and Bezos, and Jeff launched his own investigation to figure out how the supermarket tabloid got a hold of his personal information. The Enquirer’s owner, David Pecker, then threatened to publish illicit photos of Bezos unless he stopped poking around, at which point Jeff published a blog post exposing Pecker’s threats. It’s been a crazy story to follow.

Through all of this there have been countless headlines and snide comments made by reporters asking how much Bezos is going to have to pay to “get rid of MacKenzie,” and whether that amount will be increased since he was having an affair. Frankly, it’s disgusting.

First, divorce is about two people who are making the decision to lead separate lives. Ex-partners are not “bought off,” they are fairly compensated for the time and energy the put into the relationship.

The richest man in the world is not going to lose half of his fortune. Rather, the richest couple in the world is going to divide their wealth in a way that reflects that fact that MacKenzie was Amazon’s first employee, and that it was her work on behalf of her family that allowed Jeff to focus on growing his business. Neither would be where they are today without the other.

You don’t have to be rich and famous to adopt this mindset. You and your ex were a team. You got where you are together. To move forward separately, you have to figure out a fair way to divide your shared assets. This is the way the law works, so shifting your mindset to match it is going to make your divorce at lot easier to accept and move on from.

Second, Jeff should not be punished for having an affair. Washington has no-fault divorce laws, which allow couples to split up without citing any particular reason why they want to do so. One party does not “win” the divorce case, both parties go their separate ways and move on with their lives.

In Pennsylvania, couples can choose to file a no-fault divorce, although fault-based divorce is still common. Which option is better depends on the couple and the circumstances. However, in the modern world, seeing a judge punish a partner who had an affair is becoming more and more rare.

Relationships are complicated, but so is splitting up. Even when the National Enquirer is not involved, things can get heated and feelings can get hurt. Remembering that you are your ex both brought assets to the marriage — some monetary, and some intangible — and that neither one of you needs to be blamed for the split can speed and simplify the divorce process and allow you to move on with your lives.


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