Daily Archives: May 25, 2012


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Facebook CEO's Well-Timed Marriage

Just one day after his company made its public trading debut, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg married Priscilla Chan.
Mark Zuckerberg's original Facebook profile
Mark Zuckerberg’s original Facebook profile (Photo credit: niallkennedy)

The Facebook billionaire topped off a remarkable week with a surprise wedding Saturday to his college sweetheart Priscilla Chan. Zuckerberg, 28,  met Chan, 27, during his years as an undergraduate student at Harvard. The wedding announcement was classic Facebook: Zuckerberg simply updated his profile to: “Married Priscilla Chan.” The news had almost 850,000 “likes” Sunday evening.

Though there’s no indication that the Zuckerberg wedding had anything to do with the IPO, its timing couldn’t have been better. At least if the pair ever decide to divorce.
Zuckerberg was worth $17.5 billion as of March 2012 but that figure could now be closer to $19 billion thanks to his move to take Facebook public on May 19, according to Forbes

Prenuptial agreements generally waive the right to make claims based on California community property laws, which state that property created after marriage is community property and should be split evenly after divorce.
If there was no prenuptial agreement, Zuckerberg benefited by waiting until after the initial public offering. If the marriage had taken place before the IPO, his shares could have been considered marital assets. Since it took place afterward, he can argue his Facebook holdings were separate property acquired before marriage, and they were not marital property. He probably couldn’t make the same argument, however, about gains made after the marriage. Earnings from work are generally considered community property.
Whether or not these legal repercussions had any impact on the timing of the Zuckerberg wedding is unknown. Even if they had no impact, Zuckerburg may have just lucked out.
Some of the benefits of a prenuptial agreement include:
  • documenting each spouse’s separate property to protect it as separate property,
  • supporting your estate plan and avoiding court involvement to decide property distribution,
  • distinguishing between what is marital and what is community property,
  • documenting and detailing any special arrangements between you and your spouse,
  • avoiding extended court proceedings, which result in the time of expensive divorce attorneys,
  • reducing conflicts during a divorce,
  • establishing procedures and rules for issues that may arise in the future, and
  • assigning debt, such as credit cards, school loans, and mortgages, to the appropriate spouse to avoid both spouses sharing debt liability.

Many people fear that discussing such matters, or even bringing up the word prenuptial agreement, will cause turmoil in their relationship. Often times, just the opposite is true. One of the main irreconcilable differences leading to divorce is finances. Talking to your spouse ahead of time regarding finances, property, and marital asset management can avoid a lot of these disagreements. You both can get on the same page in the beginning so that the issue does not pop up and cause an argument later. Furthermore, discussing these issues nurtures healthy communication. Even if you and your spouse decide a prenuptial agreement is not for you, discussing it may be a good idea.

Whether to enter into a prenuptial agreement or not is a very personal decision. Each individual and couple is unique. Therefore, you should base your decision on your own unique circumstances.

Legal updates by the Orange and Riverside County Law Firm of Don Ho, LLP.

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