Every single couple in Illinois who chooses to walk down the aisle together likely has no expectation that their marriage could ultimately end in divorce. Though all divorces have important implications, a high asset divorce in Illinois and other areas of the country could be especially complicated. For example, the recently announced impending divorce of Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos has many people questioning how assets are divided when there are a great deal of assets.
Some family law professionals claim that one issue that complicates divorces for couples with high assets is the fact that they often have a great deal of their wealth invested in the stock market. The stocks must be assessed in order to divide them, a process that can be somewhat involved. In fact, marital assets — including collectibles — must be assessed to be divided.
Exactly how marital property will be divided is determined to some degree by state law. For example, Washington, where the Bezoses are filing, is a community property state where everything acquired during the marriage is subject to a 50/50 split if no marital agreement is in place. Because Jeff Bezos founded Amazon after their marriage, this could leave his share of Amazon stocks subject to an equal split if there is not pre or postnuptial agreement in place.
However, other states — including Illinois — divide property according to equitable distribution in which a variety of factors are considered, including how long the couple were married and the role each spouse played in the couple’s wealth. Though few couples have financial holdings valued at approximately $137 billion like the Bezos family, others facing a high asset divorce may be motivated to settle their differences outside of court to maintain their privacy. Fortunately, there are experienced professionals who can help couples seek this goal but also turn to litigation if negotiations outside of court should fail.