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Considerations when very wealthy couples divorce

For wealthy couples in Illinois who are getting a divorce, the process of dividing property can be complex. This is illustrated in the case of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who recently issued a statement with his wife that the two were ending their 25-year marriage. Since Washington is a community property state and Bezos started Amazon after getting married, his wife may own 50 percent of it.

This might not be the case in Illinois or other equitable distribution states. A number of factors would be taken into account to determine what part of a couple's fortune each person would get including how much each worked to build it. This could lead to a split that was 60/40, 75/25 or even smaller depending on the couple's overall worth.

Experts say that how contentious high-asset divorces are tend to have more to do with the couple's own temperaments and whether they trust one another than the value of their assets. The Bezos statement released sounds as though they have a relatively cooperative relationship. It would also be difficult for either person in such a high-profile couple to hide assets. However, this can be an issue in some divorces.

In some cases, splitting assets in a divorce could end up being costly. For example, splitting a 401(k) requires a complicated document called a qualified domestic relations order that can be expensive to prepare. In other cases, the sale of property may incur taxes. Couples might find they save money if they each agree to take certain assets instead of splitting all of them. However, before agreeing to this, each person should make sure that they fully understand whether there are any costs, such as taxes or upkeep, associated with the asset.

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