Settling a divorce out of court can have several big advantages over letting a court decide. It’s generally faster and, because it avoids some court fees, less expensive. It also gives the parties greater control over their outcomes.
It’s also private, as opposed to court records, which may become public knowledge. This probably isn’t a great concern for most New Yorkers going through divorce, but for high-net-worth and highly visible individuals, it can be a major advantage. The ongoing divorce of a tech billionaire couple illustrates why.
Early Google investor
The case involves Scott Hassan, who in the late 1990s helped Sergey Brin and Larry Page develop a web browser that would later become known as Google. He never technically worked for the company, but was an early investor and his shares in the company were worth hundreds of millions of dollars once the company went public in 2004. He made hundreds of millions more when he sold a company he had co-founded, and he helped launch two startups devoted to robotics.
Hassan and his wife married in 2001. She is a tech industry insider herself, and claims that during the early years of the marriage she financially supported him and their children. Hassan disputes this.
In 2015, the couple decided to divorce, but six years later they have still not resolved major issues. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, the couple must now resolve the division of their property, which includes hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stocks and other business interests, as well as tens of millions of dollars in real estate and other investments. (The divorce is controlled by California law.)
Sadly, there is so much animosity between the parties that they have not been able to reach an agreement on their own. Instead, their case has gone through the courts, where much of the activity becomes public record. While Hassan and his wife do not have the public profile of some other Silicon Valley billionaires, their dispute has garnered headlines and gossip. The attention is notable when compared to the under-the-radar divorces of other wealthy couples in their industry.