If you own shares of Amazon stock or are of one the thousands of Texans who work for Amazon, you likely heard the news of Jeff Bezos’ split from his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, with at least some amount of concern. It’s too soon to know, however, what impact the couple’s impending divorce will have on the empire he’s built.
The two reportedly have no prenuptial agreement. If they file for divorce in Washington State, where they own a home, the divorce will be subject to community property laws. That means that the couple could split their considerable fortune in half — still leaving both of them among the wealthiest people in the world.
In 1995, just a year after they married, Amazon came into existence in the couple’s garage as an online bookstore. Now Jeff Bezos is reportedly worth about $137 billion, and the Amazon empire includes, among other things, The Washington Post and Austin-based Whole Foods.
The 54-year-old Bezos has many other ties to Texas. His father, a petroleum engineer, moved to Houston when Jeff was a young child. His grandparents owned a large cattle ranch in Cotulla.
Amazon employs some 20,000 people throughout the state. There are nine Amazon fulfillment centers in Texas as well as the Amazon Wind Farm.
Bezos also owns 400,000 acres of land near Van Horn, from which his Blue Origin aerospace company is run. The company plans to eventually send tourists to the outer reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere in space capsules. He’s building a clock inside a mountain in West Texas that he plans to use as a spaceport.
The split appears — at least publicly — to be amicable. For the good of the company and to maintain some privacy, the couple may seek to keep the details of their divorce and division of assets out of the public eye.
Most family law attorneys would advise a couple with a large number of assets and a business of any size to have a prenup or at least to draw up a postnuptial agreement later on. This can make asset and debt division considerably easier and less time-consuming, stressful and expensive if the marriage ends.