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Highest divorce settlement in history

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As news broke in January of Amazon Founders Jeff Bezos’ separation from his wife Mackenzie, my previous blog titled “What happens to prime business assets on divorce” explored how the English Courts approach business assets when dealing with financial matters arising as a result of divorce proceedings.

The main asset in that case was Mr Bezos’ 16% shareholding in and raised concern that any settlement might adversely impact upon the company. However, it would seem that such concern has proved unfounded, as the couple has just announced that they have agreed a settlement. The deal provides for Mackenzie to hold a 4% stake worth at least $35 billion in the retail company, on the basis that Jeff will retain the voting rights in relation to those shares and so not diluting his influence in the company. She has also given up her interests in the Washington Post Newspaper and Space Travel firm Blue Origin, and whilst further details of the deal are not known, the value of the Amazon shares alone makes this the highest divorce settlement in history and apparently will make Mackenzie the world’s third richest woman according to Forbes.

As a family solicitor, what is particularly notable, other than the size of the settlement, is the way in which Mr and Mrs Bezos have apparently conducted themselves. Both have tweeted positive comments about the other following the announcement of the settlement, and in spite of details emerging of an alleged affair between Mr Bezos and a former Fox TV host following their announced split in January.

The breakdown of their marriage, and the need to address the issues arising, would have undoubtedly been a very upsetting and stressful time. However, when all is said and done, they remain parents. Dealing with the issues in a way which puts the best interests of the children first, and is constructive and non-confrontational, is likely to mean that not only are the Amazon shareholders happy, but Mr and Mrs Bezos will be happier with the outcome and able to continue to work together in future to co-parent their children.

At Birkett Long,  all of our specialist divorce and separation lawyers are members of Resolution, an organisation of over 6,500 divorce and separation lawyers committed to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational way. We believe that family law disputes should be dealt with in a constructive way, designed to preserve people’s dignity and to encourage agreement.

For more information in relation to this issue or to discuss how we can help you, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist divorce and separation lawyers. We offer a free, no obligation 15 minute chat. I am based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217305,, or alternatively you can complete our online enquiry form.

Karen Johnson is an accredited specialist family solicitor with over 16 years’ experience in assisting clients address issues arising as a result of relationship breakdown.