Money, Money, Money….must be
Yesterday Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie announced on twitter in a joint statement that they are to divorce after a 25-year marriage.
“After a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends,” the couple said in the statement.
Amazon was formed 25 years ago in a garage, when he borrowed funds from his parents. He told his parents that he might not be able to repay that money. How wrong was he.
World’s Wealthiest Man
Mr Bezos, 54 is the world’s wealthiest man according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, with an estimated wealth of $137bn, some $45bn ahead of Bill Gates.
The 48-year-old MacKenzie Bezos is a novelist and wrote The Testing of Luther Albright (2005) and Traps (2013).
So how do you defend your wealth created during the marriage/relationship when you have no pre- or post nup? Would in Mr Bezos case a special contribution or stellar argument count?
The answer can only be Yes. Currently the Court has not ever qualified clearly what level of wealth should be accumulated in the marriage and maybe never had to, but in our experience the arguments in cases with stellar issue we have been involved, are normally run at a level of £30 – £50 million.
The only recent reported case was a case with an asset value of £870 million in Cooper-Hohn v Hohn  EWHC 4122 after decisions in Sorrell v Sorrell  EWHC 1717 (who recently created s4Capital which purchased Media Monks for $350 million after he left WPP) and Charman v Charman (No.4)  EWCA Civ 503.
The principles in a stellar argument case
More recently the Court of Appeal in England emphasised the focus on a disparity of contributions and whether the disparity is such that it would be unequitable to disregard it (see Work v Gray  EWCA Civ 270 – assets at USD 225m ).
It is established that the main factors are:
- The characteristic or circumstances which could result in a departure of equality have to be wholly exceptional nature;
- Exceptional earnings could be a departure of equality , but only if it would be inequitable to proceed otherwise;
- There has to be a disparity in spouses’ respective contributions to the welfare of the family ; a discrimination to the homemaker has to be avoided;
- The person who runs a genius argument will have to establish independently, whether the exceptional and individual quality was caused by his genius in business or some other field.
As somebody once said, “common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes”, but if Aristoteles is right that “there is no great genius without some touch of madness” , how would the Court quantify the special contribution by a spouse who lives with a genius in Aristoteles sense and has to put up with it for over 20 years?
If you would like more details on this or want to discuss your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact James, Frank or Evelyn. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 01904 217225 or email us to [email protected].