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Best Buy CEO's Divorce Forces Him to Sell Stock

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By Betty Wang, JD on September 12, 2013 10:54 AM

Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly's divorce has prompted him to sell nearly $17 million worth of shares in the company. The sale was disclosed in a filing on Tuesday, and a company statement confirmed the sale was to help pay for Joly's divorce settlement, CNNMoney reports.

Joly, who was born in France, has been CEO of Best Buy for a little more than a year. According to the company, this sale represented about 20 percent of Joly's stake in Best Buy.

Aside from selling his stock, however, no other details have emerged about Joly's divorce settlement or what led up to the split. But for those interested in family law (or those who are facing divorce themselves), the settlement raises a few legal questions, such as:

Where Was the Divorce Filed?

Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly is originally from France; he and his ex-wife have two children, according to the Notable Names Database. It's not clear where his ex and his children live.

It's also not clear where his divorce case was filed. The state where you file is important, because that state's laws will then govern the divorce. Joly's LinkedIn profile suggests he's located in the greater Minneapolis area, where Best Buy is based.

To file for divorce in Minnesota, one spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least 180 days. As Joly has been with Best Buy since last fall, it's likely that he met Minnesota's residency requirement.

The state where you file for divorce can also affect property division. Minnesota is an equitable distribution state, where a court can decide what's fair when splitting a couple's assets. That's different from community property states where marital assets are generally split 50/50.

Was There a Prenup?

Prenuptial agreements can also affect how property is divided upon divorce. In Joly's case, reports have not mentioned whether he had one.

While prenups can be helpful for many couples, they aren't for everybody. They're not very romantic, for one. Also, prenups can't cover everything -- for example, they can't stipulate child support or child custody arrangements; the court has the final say over that.

What Settlement Process Did He Use?

The Best Buy CEO's stock sale was part of his divorce settlement agreement -- an agreement that can be reached through various routes.

A private settlement is one way to achieve this. After both spouses reach an agreement (usually with the help of experienced divorce lawyers), it's put into writing and shown to a judge who, if satisfied that the agreement was fairly negotiated, will approve it.

Like many states, Minnesota also offers a few court-assisted routes for divorce settlements. One is called an Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE), in which a neutral third party can help divorcing couples figure out financial and child-custody issues. Professional divorce mediators are also available to help.

Whatever route Best Buy's CEO chose for his divorce settlement, it seems his ex will be receiving a substantial payout. To learn more about your options in a divorce case, check out FindLaw's free Guide to Starting the Divorce Process.

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