The timing of Mark Zuckerberg’s marriage to his college sweetheart, Priscilla Chan, on Saturday, just a day after he took his company public, was certainly curious. Was he looking to clarify his net worth, which, with roughly 503 million shares, now stands at about $17 billion? And if true, many observers are speculating, did that have to do with the terms of a prenuptial agreement? The Zuckerbergs are not saying.
But what is clear, according to matrimonial law experts, is that whatever Mr. Zuckerberg earned before the marriage is still solely his property afterward.
California is one of fewer than a dozen states that follow community property laws, which specifically outline how property is divided between two spouses (or, in some cases, registered domestic partners).
The rest of the states generally follow equitable division rules, where the court tries to divide assets fairly at divorce. Generally, the rule for community property states that anything that was one spouse’s property before marriage is considered separate. In California, this includes things like dividends from previously owned stock or rent that is collected from an income-producing property owned before the marriage. After marriage, anything either partner earns or acquires is considered community property.