When a relationship is ending, it can be hard to think too deeply about the future. Especially in divorces where there are a large amount of assets to divide, it may be tempting to simply get a divorce “over with” by accepting any settlement that seems halfway reasonable. After all, then you don’t have to think about it anymore.
Well, that’s not always the best idea. Getting a fair divorce settlement can make a world of difference, not just for yourself but for your loved ones and favorite causes, as well. That’s something that Mackenzie Scott, novelist and ex-wife to Jeff Bezos, understands.
Ex-Mrs. Bezos’ One-Day Delivery Of Prime Donation
On July 28th, Scott made an announcement. First, she outlined her belief that donating funds to worthwhile causes is one of the easiest ways to effect change in the world. Second, she outlined the nearly $1.7 billion of donations she has made since her divorce from Bezos was finalized. This amount was less than 5% of her total net worth, yet it offers incredible opportunities to her chosen non-profits, educational centers, and charities.
Scott had received the largest divorce settlement in history in early 2019, a settlement that appears to have been scrupulously considered. Bezos and Scott settled out of court, and the result left both members of the former couple in the top 25 on the Forbes’ Billionaire List. Scott walked out of the divorce with a net worth of more than $60 billion, and the intention to use her money for good.
What Scott understands is that both partners in a marriage are putting in work. The success of either partner is, in part, the result of the union as a whole. The law reflects this, as well. California is a community property state, which means that each partner in a marriage legally owns half of the property in the relationship.
This includes all earnings by either partner during the marriage and anything bought with those earnings. Every cent Bezos earned while married to Scott was community property, and their marriage predates Amazon by years. As a result, Bezos was legally bound to split much of his property with Scott upon the divorce.
Of course, not everyone is Mackenzie Scott. Most divorces do not include literal billions of dollars in assets to divide. However, even when the numbers aren’t quite that high, getting a fair divorce settlement is essential. It’s more than merely being “equitable,” it’s about having the most options possible.
Why Fair Divorce Settlements Are Worth It
In just about any marriage, both partners put in work for the good of both people. Whether that’s working to earn money to pay rent or taking care of children to avoid the cost of daycare, both people are adding value. Even if one partner makes less than the other, they are still providing emotional and logistical support to the higher earner.
It’s only fair that both partners receive their fair share if they divorce. It’s not just about equity: it’s about opportunity. If one partner sacrificed their earning potential to care for children or to take care of the household, they also sacrificed opportunities to invest in themselves. Once they leave the marriage, they deserve just as many options as their former partner to invest in their future, support their children, or even donate like Scott.
That’s why it’s crucial to work towards a fair settlement. The first settlement to be offered may or may not be in either party’s best interest. Even if the current financial value appears to be even, different assets and investments may appreciate at different rates, leaving one partner with a much lower standard of living. Instead, by working with their attorneys and discussing the matter thoroughly, both partners can walk away from a divorce with an equitable agreement and the chance to put their own happiness and priorities first.
How to Decide Whether a Settlement Is Fair
No two divorce settlements will look exactly alike, because no two marriages are the same. Assets, debts, children, and income will all vary from marriage to marriage and year to year. While you’re considering your options, there are a few ways to decide whether a settlement seems genuinely fair.
- Do both partners have the means to support themselves after the settlement?
- Do both parties have a place to live?
- Have items of emotional significance been divided reasonably?
- Are assets divided roughly equally?
- If children are involved in the divorce, does the custody agreement have their best interests in mind?
These are just rough guidelines, of course. Bezos kept 75% of his stocks in Amazon after the divorce, which made up a significant part of his net worth. However, Scott and Bezos both seem relatively content with the deal they made in this settlement.
That’s the final indicator of whether a divorce settlement is fair: if both parties feel like it is reasonable. While not every divorcing couple will find a solution that makes them equally happy, there is almost always a solution that’s at least acceptable to both parties. Working towards this solution requires a thorough understanding of finances, assets, and the law, especially in divorces that involve significant marital assets. This is vital to ensuring an equitable settlement that affords equal opportunities to both partners.
Focusing on Your Own Priorities
Divorce is the process of ending the marital contract and setting yourself on your own path. Getting a fair divorce settlement is key to giving you and your loved ones the most opportunities possible. Whether you want the chance to donate like Scott, to send your children to a private college, or to invest in businesses that excite you, having a fair settlement makes all the difference.
This is especially true in high-net-worth divorces like the Bezos-Scott split. Mackenzie Scott knew what she wanted to do after her divorce, and she did her best to make it happen. Without a fair settlement, she would not have been able to donate as she did. If you’re working to receive a fair divorce settlement, you can reach out to our expert divorce lawyers today.