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Avoiding a messy high-asset divorce

Not too many divorcing couples in Pennsylvania have the kind of assets that Jeff Bezos and his soon-to-be-ex-wife have. However, divorces involving significant wealth can still present certain challenges not common with more traditional splits. In early 2019, the Amazon founder and his spouse jointly announced plans to end their 25-year marriage. High-profile couples like this may be able to avoid a message divorce by being proactive during the process.

Easing the impact of a high-asset divorce typically involves a joint effort to focus on a healthy restructuring of the family, especially if children are part of the equation. This might include efforts to remain civil in public, attend social functions without signs of conflict, and avoid awkward situations by not having divorce papers served at a spouse's place of business.

It remains unclear if the couple had a prenuptial or post-marital agreement, although it's not unusual for such documents to be challenged during a high-asset divorce. This is because couples sometimes marry before a business takes off, as is the case with what happened with Amazon. Normally, CEOs prefer to hang onto as much of their stock options as possible to retain control of the business while transferring other marital assets over to the other spouse. When it comes to efforts to reach a mutually agreeable settlement, it's generally advised that both parties recognize when it's time to stop negotiating, typically this point is when settlement ranges begin to overlap.

Regardless of the unique circumstances often involved with a high asset divorce, separating couples generally benefit from getting their respective "teams" together as soon as possible. Such individuals typically include a family law attorney and a financial adviser or accountant. Some people also benefit from working with a business valuation expert to handle business-related matters and a therapist to help them deal with the emotional toll.

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