Mum is the word on whether Mark Zuckerberg and his new wife signed a prenuptial agreement before their wedding. The chief of Facebook married his girlfriend on the day after the social networking giant company went public. The couple was married in the private home that they share together in a ceremony Saturday.
Commentators say that it is likely the couple entered an agreement before the wedding ceremony. The timing of the wedding, which occurred the day after the huge Facebook initial public offering, may tend to fuel the speculation that a prenuptial agreement was in place.
But even if a prenup was not entered into before the marriage, the timing of the wedding in relation to the IPO has also fueled speculation that the timing of the two events was not pure chance. Notably, not all high profile, wealthy individuals opt to enter into a premarital agreement. Mel Gibson and Paul McCartney are among those who sidestepped such an agreement.
In Houston, like anywhere in the country, the use of prenuptial agreements has seen an increase in recent years. Many believe the increasing acceptance of the agreements is a reflection upon the common knowledge that many marriages do eventually end in divorce. Whatever the reason or reasons, however, premarital or postmarital agreements can often reduce conflict down the road, if things should break down in the marriage relationship.
Each state defines property its own way under family law. In Texas, there are two types of property recognized in a family court setting, community property and separate property. Generally, any property is presumed to be community property in a Texas divorce, unless one of the parties can prove that the property is separate. That means the court will divide all of the assets as marital, unless proven to be not subject to division between the divorcing spouses.
An asset owned by one of the spouses before the marriage (and still owned at the time of divorce) is one type of separate property in Texas.
In Zuckerberg's case, family law issues do not track Texas law, but California law, where community property is handled differently. The timing of Zuckerberg's marriage to Priscilla Chan, whom he met at Harvard in 2004, has led to speculation that a prenup was involved. At the very minimum, the value of Zuckerberg's interest in Facebook the day after the IPO is fairly easy to determine.
High asset divorces can often include difficulties not only in defining the differences between community property and separate property, but also involve tracing such assets and issues of valuation. The timing of Zuckerberg's marriage has led many to speculate that not only was a premarital agreement in place, but also that valuation issues were considered before the couple said, "I do."
Source: Reuters, "Zuckerberg's post-IPO wedding is smart legal move," Sarah McBride and Ron Popeski, May 20, 2012