America was built on entrepreneurial spirit by people setting out for the new world with the intent of building a new and independent life. That spirit exists today with new businesses coming into existence in Ohio and around the country on an almost daily basis. Few will have the success that Amazon enjoys, a company founded by a married couple who are now involved in a very high-asset divorce. The company was founded after they married and, as such, can be considered community property. How can the value of the property be protected?
Pre-nuptial agreements are becoming more popular as couples consider the importance of protecting property acquired before or during a marriage. It is widely believed that the Bezos’, the founders of Amazon, did not have one. The idea for Amazon came after they were married, and they probably didn’t foresee the success that Amazon would become. As they are now preparing to divorce, it is possible that Jeff Bezos’ share of the company will be cut in half.
A step that they could have taken prior to a divorce would have been to establish a post-nuptial agreement that would have spelled out property divisions in the event of a divorce. It is not known if the Bezos’ have a post-nuptial agreement. Failing that, they could find themselves in a situation similar to that experienced by another couple, the Wynns, who had a large stake in the development of Las Vegas. Having neither a pre- nor a post-nuptial agreement, a prolonged struggle for control ensued that ultimately cost each of them and their investors a financial loss.
No one enters a marriage in Ohio planning to become a billionaire or anticipating a high-asset divorce. That said, precautions can be taken to protect property in the event that one becomes the next Jeff Bezos. A family law attorney can guide a person in the creation of a pre- or post-nuptial agreement that can protect future earnings.