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LEGAL COMMENT: A divorce of Amazonian proportions

Fiona Turner comments on the multi-billion dollar separation..

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, have announced they are to divorce after 25 years of marriage. Founder of Amazon Mr Bezos has an estimated wealth of $137bn.

Weightmans Family Partner Fiona Turner comments:

"MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos’ divorce is being followed closely by the family law community. As one of, if not the, richest man in the world, the outcome of the Amazon founder’s divorce is eagerly anticipated.

"Although the divorce is likely to take place in the US, perhaps Washington state,  where Amazon’s HQ in Seattle is based, whether his wife receives an equal share of the assets is being debated.

"Washington State operates a different legal regime to that in England and Wales, the latter operating a discretionary regime, while the former is broadly based on ‘community of property’.

"However, each jurisdiction would largely start from the same blocks – is an equal split of the assets the right outcome?

"We don’t yet know if the Bezos had a pre nuptial agreement, which could well influence an outcome, but if not, an English court would need to determine whether it was fair and reasonable to depart from equality when dealing with resources that have reportedly been built up during the parties’ marriage. Some divorcing spouses, including Ryan Giggs, bankers and hedge fund owners, and possibly even Ant McPartlin, argue that their ‘stellar’ or ‘genius’ contribution to the wealth should entitle them to a larger share.

"In a recent case, Justice Holman suggested that in the divorce context 'the word ‘genius’ tends to be overused and is properly reserved for Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Einstein and others like them.' Whether Jeff Bezos would be equated to them is yet to be seen."

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