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Jeff Bezos Divorce: Is Adultery Grounds for Divorce in Florida?

The world is a buzz over news that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos may have had an extramarital affair and that he and his wife are divorcing. And as it happens in all divorces, the parties’ assets and liabilities must now be split, including Bezos’ $135 billion net worth as stated by Forbes in January of 2019.

So, what if Jeff Bezos was filing for divorce in Florida? Would “adultery” be grounds for divorce and would his wife, Mackenzie Tuttle, be entitled to any additional claims for his adultery?

What may seem shocking to some – the answer to both questions is NOT EXACTLY.

Now, let me explain.

Of course, adultery is a reason any spouse may want to seek a divorce. But, statutorily, it is not the grounds needed to file and it is not the basis a Florida Family Court needs to grant your divorce. Florida is a no-fault divorce state that statutorily requires a spouse to only allege one of two grounds to file and have a divorce granted: either (1) that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” or (2) that there is “mental incapacity of one of the parties”.

Moreover, Florida Family Courts, for the most part, are not interested in the facts or allegations surrounding a spouse’s adultery[1] … unless that spouse intentionally dissipated or destroyed assets, i.e. a spouse paid for jewelry, hotels, or expensive dinners as part of their extramarital affairs.

So, what if Jeff Bezos’ divorce didn’t settle and it went to trial in Florida? How would their assets be divided based on these circumstances? The short answer is that the Florida Family Courts would begin from the statutory position that all marital assets and liabilities are to be split equally. For example, it would start with Bezos’ $135 billion net worth split equally, with each party receiving $67.5 billion dollars. Now, the average family law divorce does not have such substantial assets like this and instead would look to equally divide all assets and liabilities, such as their marital residence, cars, bank accounts, brokerage/retirement accounts as well as credit card and other forms of debt. But you get the picture.

But what if, for example, Bezos did spend money on the alleged extramarital affair? What would Mackenzie Tuttle be able to seek from a Florida Family Court during the trial? She would seek an unequal equitable distribution. Again, the Florida Family Courts are only interested in the financial aspect of any extramarital affair, i.e. how much money was spent by Bezos’ as she would be entitled to half of all the money spent.

Next, the Court would look to divide all other assets, liabilities, and determine what, if any alimony, would be awarded in this case – spoiler alert: she wouldn’t be an alimony candidate with $67.5 billion dollars.

Lindsay B. Haber, Esq. is a partner in the family law division of Kluger Kaplan. Ms. Haber has worked as a family law attorney for nearly nine years and has experience in high-profile, high-conflict family law matters, such as complex and high value property, business and financial distributions as well as acrimonious child matters including international kidnapping and parenting conflicts. For more information, feels free to contact Lindsay B. Haber, Esq.

[1] Courts are also interested if it has an affect on the parties’ minor child(ren) in specific circumstances.

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