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Do Mark Zuckerberg and new bride have a pre-nuptial agreement?

While many financial analysts are busy questioning whether Facebook's initial public offering last week was a good business decision, most are in agreement that company founder Mark Zuckerberg's wedding the very next day was an interesting move.

Family law professionals are, of course, assuming the couple signed a pre-nuptial agreement--as many wealthy couples in Arizona also do in order to decide how to split assets in the event of a break-up. However in Zuckerberg's case--prenup or no prenup--the timing of the wedding has cemented some of the outcome of any property or asset division if the couple is to ever divorce.

Zuckerberg and his new bride, Priscilla Chan, reside in California, which like Arizona is considered a community-property state. Community-property laws generally assign joint-ownership to any and all property acquired during a marriage. This means that any wealth, assets or property Zuckerberg attains after his wedding day belongs just as much to his wife as to he. Any assets Zuckerberg attained prior to the marriage may remain his alone.

The day before his wedding, Zuckerberg became one of the richest men in the world, thanks to the Facebook IPO. Because the IPO happened before the college sweethearts said "I do," anything Zuckerberg earns on his stocks would likely be considered his property under community property laws--as long as the money is never deposited into joint bank accounts.

However, the two likely did sign a pre-nuptial agreement, which largely would make these estimates somewhat obsolete. A pre-nuptial agreement is a legally-binding contract, which is drawn up by an attorney. They are particularly useful if the division of wealth or income between a couple is very uneven prior to the marriage.

All couples are wise to discuss these issues prior to marriage, both together and with their attorneys, in order to decide whether a pre-nuptial agreement is necessary.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Zuckerberg's post-IPO wedding is smart legal move," May 20, 2012

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