Amazon shareholders have been more than a little relieved that Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos’ divorce from his wife MacKenzie has been an amicable and relatively uncomplicated one — at least publicly. Despite the couple’s vast wealth, they seem to have worked out a division of property and a parenting agreement with relatively little drama.
While few of us can relate to having the Bezos’ vast fortune, divorcing couples can learn some valuable lessons from them. One is to have an agreed-upon “divorce story.” The Bezoses announced their divorce in a joint Twitter post before later posting mutually amicable messages separately on social media.
While you and your spouse likely don’t have as many interested social media followers as the Bezoses have, you have your own “network” of family, friends, colleagues and social acquaintances. Although you may share more information with some people than others, it’s good to have a brief, amicable announcement prepared. This minimizes prying questions and help relieve mutual friends and acquaintances of the problem of determining whom they should “side” with.
Of course, it’s best when this isn’t just for show. The more amicable the two of you can remain toward each other, the faster your divorce will be over. There are plenty of alternatives to a litigated divorce — including arbitration, mediation and collaborative divorce.
These are collectively known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques. In all of them, the divorcing couple takes the lead in working out their property, support and custody agreements — with the guidance of their attorneys, financial advisers and other professionals.
A divorce using ADR won’t necessarily go perfectly. You may learn things along the way that surprise or dismay you. Maybe your spouse had some assets you didn’t know about — or a boyfriend or girlfriend. The Bezos’ marriage ended amid reports of Mr. Bezos’ affair — complete with blackmail attempts by a tabloid using intimate photos and texts they reportedly had obtained.
These surprises don’t have to cause you to throw in the towel on ADR and head to court. It’s best to take a step back, consult with your team and do what’s best for you and your children.