With Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie to divorce after 25 years of marriage announced in a tweet by Mr Bezos yesterday, the natural media focus is on whether he protected his vast assets from her reach by way of a pre- or post-nuptial agreement.
The impact of these arrangements can vary from state to state in the US. In the UK, they are still not automatically binding, but have more strength if certain criteria - such as independent legal advice for both parties and full financial disclosure as to assets – are met.
What is interesting, however, is that whatever the size of the assets in the "matrimonial pot”, a separating couple can, in the case of Mr Bezos and his wife, resolve matters in a dignified fashion. He refers to “loving exploration and trial separation”.
The media was shocked at the “conscious uncoupling” term used by Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin when they divorced several years ago. This was perceived as ‘new age’ and flaky by some, but, at the core, it was a term which reflected the fact that the parties were keen to separate in a dignified fashion, just as, it would appear, the Bezos.
The reality is that whilst there is a court process followed by many going through divorce proceedings and settling their finances, it is very rare for a case to reach a final hearing with a judge having the ultimate decision as to how things should be divided. Pre-nups and post-nups aside, there are still many more tools in the toolkit of experienced family solicitors to enable parties to settle matters amicably.
Whist it might not necessarily be considered breaking news, a careful review of the assets, however large or small, and negotiations around all of the options open to parties with a keen eye on their needs and fairness does feel a little more palatable if, as in the case of Mr and Mrs Bezos, they wish to remain “cherished friends”.