Divorce is always hard, but it can be particularly messy in a ground of huge wealth, alpha personalities and hard-nosed lawyers who dont come cheap

The billionaire founder of Zynga, the San Francisco-based corporation that induces FarmVille, has observed himself in( very messy) DivorceVille.

Mark Pincus, an early investor in Facebook and Twitter who is worth $1.28 bn, segregated from his wife, Alison Gelb Pincus, the co-founder of home decoration business One Kings Lane. The couple married in 2008, a year after Mark founded Zynga, which developed into a$ 1bn corporation within four years. There was a prenup, but in filing for divorce Alison has asked the court to nullify such arrangements since Marks net worth surged during their marriage.

Divorces are always tough, but they can be particularly messy in Silicon Valley, a ground of huge wealth, alpha personalities, hard-nosed negotiators and tricky-to-value assets. Perhaps thats why Evan Spiegel, the 26 -year-old billionaire founder of Snapchat, has sought a draconian prenup in advance of his marriage to simulate Miranda Kerr. His more than$ 4bn fate, much of which is lock the door in Snap Inc stock, is safe if the enjoy bubble ever bursts.

People get to Silicon Valley and make a ton of money and then they dont want the wife or or husband they wedded before. Money changes, mentioned Michael Pascoe, an attorney at Silicon Valley Law Offices.

In the hollow, what counts as money is complicated. There are six-figure wages, equity in startups whose value may skyrocket or fizzle, and limited inventory units( RSUs) a popular form of compensation at tech corporations like Apple and Google, where an employee is promised inventory after certain conditions are achieved, for example working at the company for a particular quantity of day or launching a product.

According to California statute, anything you own before marriage counts as your separate property. However any asset acquired or income earned during marriage counts as community property and, in the event of a breakup, the law requires it to be divided equally between partners.

For this reason, savvy soon-to-weds take out pre-marital agreements outlining a clear divorce plan.

Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, segregated from his wife, Alison Gelb Pincus. Photograph: Bloomberg/ Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mark Ressa from Bay Area Divorce has represented billionaire venture capitalists, as well as founders of tech startups. He has noticed an increase in pairs in their early 30 s, whove already accumulated a significant fate through a decade of work with six-figure wages and inventory alternatives, trying prenups.

Im realise very young pairs who have what we would all consider significant wealth to start with, and they are interested in protecting that wealth, he mentioned, mentioning a couple he gratified lately who had both worked at big social media corporations in the Bay Area for a decade and had almost $10 m in stock between them.

Many people in Silicon Valley make their wealth before they get married, added Jeffrey Verdon, an attorney whose firm lately set up an office in Silicon Valley be addressed with high net-worth patrons, with upwards of $10 m in assets. Young budding tech geeks dont have day for relationships.

But when it comes to divorce, some of his Silicon Valley patrons want to screw over their development partners at all costs instead of resolving, even if it would make better fiscal sense.

You get these really smart entrepreneurs who are completely intractable and so will invest whatever it takes to push back against their spouse, mentioned Verdon. Their egos get the better of them.

In other examples, its the out spouse the one who hasnt managed the finances in the relationship that is more likely to litigate. This is their one shot, mentioned San Francisco divorce lawyer Liat Sadler.

Unfortunately, the hype around Silicon Valley startups that may never ought to have profitable can determine spouses up for a jarring reality check.

Often the spouse that isnt the entrepreneur has only one inflated eyesight of what their spouses interest in the business is worth. They understand gold and think its worth millions, she added.

Once a divorce petition is filed, both partners assets are frozen until a settlement is reached. This can be frustrating for high-net worth individuals who like to move their money, particularly when litigation can take several years.

Tesla founder Elon Musk with his second wife Talulah Riley in 2014. The pair are now divorced. Musks first divorce cost$ 4m. Photograph: Evan Agostini/ Invision/ AP

Verdon mentions a patron with a billion dollars of inventory that he cant touch until the petition is dismissed. His wifes lawyer told him hell be in the divorce for five years.

That doesnt stop some people from trying to restructure their companies or hide their money, despite a legal obligation to disclose all assets and income.

Its very unwise, mentioned Raquel Sefton, a family lawyer in San Francisco. People who think they can do that and get away with it take a very big risk.

The cautionary tale she mentions is a matter of Denise Rossi, who filed for divorce from her husband Thomas Rossi in 1999. She failed to mention that just 11 days previously she had won $1.3 m in the California lottery, in an attempt to avoid devoting him half. When the court discovered she had intentionally disguised the winnings, a magistrate awarded the full jackpot to her husband.

Given the complexity of their financial affairs, its common for Silicon Valley pairs to hire private magistrates who are familiar with elaborated different forms of inventory compensation and investments or complicated child supporting issues. An added benefit is that such hearings, although technically public, take place in private offices.

Beyond wrangling over RSUs and equity stakes, these magistrates frequently have to mediate in frenzied detention battles over pets.

My standard is the same standard I use for children, mentioned private magistrate Madeleine Simborg. I do what is in the best interest of the dog. I look at each household and understand what the relationship is like and understand where the dog would be happiest.

Ressa said that last week he had a patron in a hearing with a private magistrate where a big part of the argument was over the visitation rights to five cats.

Messy divorces dont is cheap. When Elon Musk divorced his first wife Justine( his starter wife) the two sides racked up$ 4m in legal and accounting bills in two years around $170,000 per month, according to Elon.( Elon eventually hired divorce lawyer Todd Maron as Teslas legal counsel ).

For those who are mere millionaires rather than billionaires, legal costs for a divorce can be anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000. Its a hell of a lot cheaper to draw up a prenup, and update such arrangements if theres a significant change in finances during the marriage.

Its viewed as unromantic, but Im trying to change that position. People are doing them because they love each other, mentioned Pascoe. If things go south in your marriage its already sad enough. You dont wishes to tear each other apart in court.

Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ lifeandstyle/ 2017/ apr/ 19/ big-money-big-ego-big-bills-how-to-get-divorced-silicon-valley-style