Power couple Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki have divorced after eight years and two children together. Brin is a co-founder of Google and is estimated to be worth approximately $30 billion US. Wojcicki is a biologist, CEO, and the co-founder of 23andMe, a successful genetic-testing company.
Page Six reports that the divorce was finalized in Santa Clara County, California in May of this year. The parties separated in 2013, after Wojcicki found out that her husband was having an affair with a young marketing manager at Google. It is believed that the parties had a prenuptial agreement in place.
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement made by a couple before they marry. It typically establishes property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a separation or divorce. In Canada, prenuptial agreements are commonly referred to as marriage contracts or domestic contracts. In Ontario, a domestic contract must be made in writing, signed by the parties and witnessed in order for it to be enforceable.
Couples with substantial assets, like Brin and Wojcicki, often enter into prenuptial agreements even though it is not a requirement to get married. The purpose of a prenuptial agreement is so that the couple can predetermine how assets will be treated in the event of a divorce, instead of being dependant on the marriage laws where the parties live and/or a judge to settle these matters post-separation. This can save a lot of time and money, since parties are much more likely to agree on financial and other issues prior to marriage than they are during a heated and emotional divorce.
The content of a prenuptial agreement or marriage contract can vary widely and each agreement will reflect the needs and means of the couple. However, there are some limitations. For example, most jurisdictions do not permit a couple to contract for the custody and access (visitation) of children or financial support for children in a prenuptial agreement. A couple can enter into a parenting plan or separation agreement that addresses parenting issues only after they have separated. In Ontario, pursuant to section 56(1) of the Family Law Act, a court may disregard any provision in a domestic contract where, in the opinion of the court, it is in the best interests of the child. A court may also set aside a domestic contract or a provision in it if (a) a party failed to disclose significant assets or debts when the domestic contract was made, (b) a party did not understand the nature or consequences of the domestic contract, or (c) the contract was not in accordance with the law of contract (i.e. the agreement was so unreasonable or excessively unjust that it rises to the level of unconscionably).
Brin and Wojcicki were able to settle the terms of their divorce privately because they entered into domestic contracts, including a prenuptial agreement. If they had gone to court to settle any issues related to the divorce, their court documents would likely have been a matter of public record and accessible to the general public.