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Divorce announcement could divide fortune of Amazon founder

The news that Amazon's founder, Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, will end his marriage easily inspires thoughts about how the divorce will divide the fortune that he has amassed during his marriage. When people in Wisconsin get divorces, they also need to divide their marital assets, and speculation about how the Bezoses will divide their shared assets reveals issues that often accompany high-asset divorces.

Although Bezos presents an example of extreme wealth, some of the issues that he and his ex-wife must work out commonly apply to people with high net worth. Wealthy spouses, especially entrepreneurs, typically own stocks. Valuation of stocks tends to be a complex process, and splitting spouses need to place a dollar figure on these assets before negotiating a settlement.

Since the Bezoses married in a community property state, the possibility exists that the splitting spouses might divide their fortune equally. Such an action would pull Bezos down from his rank as the world's richest man and place his ex-wife in the position of wealthiest woman. Instead, they might choose to place their Amazon stock in a trust over which they have joint control. Such a move might reduce disruption at the company. If they had completed a prenuptial or postmarital agreement, then the property division might not represent an even split. However, the existence of an agreement between the couple has not been confirmed.

A person who needs to navigate the financial decisions necessary to complete a divorce could seek advice from a family law attorney. In addition to providing insights about how the law might mandate property division, child support or spousal support, a lawyer might suggest strategies to negotiate an equitable settlement that limits the uncertainty of a litigated divorce.

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