Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, and his wife MacKenzie made headlines in January 2019 when they jointly tweeted their plans to initiate divorce proceedings after 25 years of marriage. The internet erupted again a few months later, when Ms. Bezos tweeted out her gratitude at finalizing the divorce, and eagerness for the next phase of their relationship – “as co-parents and friends”. On the financial front, Mr. Bezos will retain 75% of the couple’s Amazon stock, and all shares in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, a space exploration enterprise. Mr. Bezos will also retain voting control over Ms. Bezos’s Amazon shares – which, representing a 4% stake in the company, are worth approximately US$35 billion.
Very few couples undergoing a separation are faced with divvying billions of dollars of assets. However, like the Bezoses, separating spouses frequently have shared business interests, which can complicate the division of marital property. Advance planning can clarify each spouse’s rights and obligations to a business and promote more amicable and predictable relations in the event of a separation. Spouses can proactively protect themselves and their businesses with shareholders agreements and marriage contracts, with the help of family law and business law professionals. Well-drafted agreements can result in significant cost savings down the line, and offer a sense of security for spouses and business stakeholders.
Lawyers at BOYNECLARKE LLP can help you navigate the legal issues of separation. If you are seeking legal advice, please call 902-469-9500 to schedule your consultation with a member of our Family Law team.