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Property division can be tricky for wealthy divorcees

Divorcing spouses in Kentucky who are very wealthy may have to go through a particularly complex process of asset division. Such issues have been illustrated in the case of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who recently announced that he will be divorcing his wife after 25 years of marriage.

Unlike Kentucky, Bezos' home state of Washington is a community property state. This means that most assets acquired after marriage can be considered shared property to be split 50/50. Since Bezos started Amazon after getting married, it is possible his wife would be able to claim half of it.

If the two split Amazon stock in half, Bezos will have to cede the title of the world's richest man to Bill Gates while his wife will become the richest woman in the world. Another alternative is to give both control over a single entity into which the joint stock is transferred. However, such issues will be eliminated if the couple has a prenuptial agreement or comes to some mutual arrangement on their own.

The process is very different in an equitable property state like Kentucky. During the property division process, judges may consider a number of factors before making a decision. There could be a 50/50 split, but it could also be 60/40, 75/25 or even a smaller percentage.

Spouses going through a high-asset divorce may have a number of complex issues to work through. For example, there could be real estate in other states and countries. Some property, if it is sold as part of the divorce settlement, might be subject to taxes that would reduce the overall value. Another consideration might be each spouse's earning potential after the divorce. An attorney could help a divorcing spouse consider all of these issues and more.

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