Recently, billionaire couple Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos ended their marriage. It begs the question: when marriage isn’t working out for billionaires and celebrities, do they divorce differently than the rest of us? Generally, the answer is yes. Agreements are hyper-detailed and maintain lots of legal ramifications when the amount of money at stake is larger. Here are the details:
Asset division is complicated
Most couples typically divide assets related to the house they live in, retirement vehicles, and other real estate or savings accounts. Billionaire assets are more layered. Property in high net-worth marriages is not only tied to real estate and savings but to complicated stocks and control in businesses as well. The ways that these assets are divided have ramifications for the couple and any company they own. Depending on how company control is arranged, the couple may find that they still need to work with each other after they are no longer connected in marriage. Alternately, one of them may find that they are completely separated from a connection with a company that defined their life.
There may be pre or post-nuptial agreements at play
A pre or post-nuptial agreement may have been put into place ahead of time to dictate how divisions will play out. If so, it may be a challenge to understand exactly what kind of impact these agreements will have on how things are divided. If not, things can get even more complicated with possibly unexpected outcomes. These depend on the regulations of the state that the couple resides in, the skill of each party’s lawyers, and the perspective of the presiding judge.
Complicated divisions mean more lawyers and experts
Complicated assets generally aren’t divided quickly Lawyers and other experts are often involved to a higher degree than in a simpler parting. They can play the tricky role of establishing asset valuations tied to offshore trusts, to shifting market values, or to one of the partner’s future role in an organization. Emotions run high as the quality of each partner’s future can be diminished by an inaccurate valuation. Lawyers may also be helpful in establishing new contracts based on their expertise in how the agreements will work for all parties involved. This role isn’t easy or straightforward. The results of these new contracts impact each partner as well as company executives, shareholders, and employees.
The public will be interested
During a divorce, the details of how each party lived and of their family life can be put on display for all to see. Records of assets and how each couple spent their money are all discussed as part of the proceedings. While this level of disclosure is typical for any divorce, the public interest in high-level divorces can be much greater. A chance to view how the other half lives in all of its glory or wastefulness is something that most won’t want to miss. This puts an added pressure on the couple.
Public image is important
In higher-profile divorces, the public image of either half of the couple can be affected by how their separation is perceived. Details of things that happened in the marriage or the behavior of either party during proceedings can impact how their customers, their fans (in the case of celebrity couples), or the public at large understands them. If one side of the divorce is perceived as particularly nasty, it can even give the other side leverage to negotiate a larger divorce settlement. Declining public image can be an issue for a business of any size or for an artist or celebrity’s ability to continue their work going forward. The future prospects of the compromised half of the couple can be severely limited if the public’s perception of them changes.
Not easy, but possible
It’s not easy for any couple to divorce, especially couples in high profile and high net-worth situations. However, story after story shows that it is possible. Ideally, each half of the couple can rebuild their lives after their divorce, living happily ever after — even without their partner.