Dividing Assets: Complicated for Divorcing “Tech” Couples

Silicon Valley divorces can be especially complicated for a number of reasons. In many cases, one or both spouses became very wealthy over a short period. They both want to protect that wealth as they go their separate ways.

Further, dividing some types of assets fairly can be a complicated endeavor. Real estate, bank accounts, investments and retirement plans are easy enough to determine the value of and to split.

However, what if much of a couple’s wealth lies in intangible assets like intellectual property (for example, patents, copyrights and trademarks)? These are more challenging to put a dollar figure on. If a spouse founded a startup company, they may have a nice salary, but also hold a significant amount of stock, options and other startup equity.

Since California is a community property state, anything that a person earns or acquires after they get married has to be divided equally with their spouse, even if that spouse had no role in the endeavor that brought that asset in. That’s one reason that prenuptial agreements are particularly popular in our state. Spouses-to-be can stipulate, if they choose, that anything that they earn during the marriage will remain with them if they divorce. A well-crafted prenup that will hold up in court can make the divorce process less combative and expensive.

Even if neither partner has a lot of money when they marry, a prenup may still be a wise idea. It’s often easier to include provisions like this when they’re still hypothetical than once one person is “worth” considerably more than the other.

Unfortunately, some business owners will use their companies to try to hide assets from their spouse. This certainly isn’t unique to the tech industry. This is extremely unwise — not to mention illegal. However, if someone suspects that their partner has done that, there are ways to find money that’s been hidden within a business or elsewhere.

If you’re considering divorce or you believe your spouse is, it’s never too early to start planning. At least, you should know what assets and liabilities you and your spouse both have and start thinking about what you want to take out of the marriage if it ends. An experienced Silicon Valley family law attorney can provide valuable guidance.

Our Satisfied Clients Say
"Cheri Bell has represented me on and off for 15 years, through a divorce and child custody agreement, I have always been very impressed with her high level of integrity. She and her staff have always been very accessible, even when I moved out of the country. Her attention to details, and undeniable commitment to straightforwardness and honesty, have had a very positive effect on our court hearings, and provided time and again the desired." V.C.
"I HIGHLY recommend Natalie Daprile. She is VERY knowledgable of Family Law and VERY ethical, efficient, personable, professional and dedicated to her practice. She is a certified family law specialist which takes years and a lot of hard work to achieve and you can see that talent when she represents you. She helped me get the child support that I needed. She is excellent with support and tax issues and will make sure you and your family get what is fairly due to you." Lisa M.
"Thank you so much, Yselle Dominguez, for helping our family. Throughout the process you were sympathetic and compassionate to our needs. We felt very comfortable and confident. You are very responsive and thorough, and helped us understand the process every step of the way. We give our greatest gratitude and appreciation to you. We are so thankful for everything you were able to resolve for us. We will definitely recommend you to all our friends and family." N.P.
"Finding a great divorce attorney is very hard, and it took me a while to find one. I was fortunate to find Natalie and have her as my attorney, and after seeing her take my very difficult case to an extremely successful resolution, I have the highest recommendations for Natalie and Daprile-Bell Law Firm." Michael C.
"For my personal experience both with divorce and lawyers, I couldn’t have asked for a better lawyer. Natalie Daprile was recommended to me by a friend of a friend. She is a straight forward, tell it like it is, honest lawyer (yes, I said HONEST) and she gets the job done" Barbara I.
Member of:
State Bar of California
Super Lawyers