Scott Hassan, sometimes dubbed the third founder of Google, has been accused by his ex-wife Allison Huynh of committing “divorce terrorism” as their separation drags into its seventh year. Hassan, the head programmer for much of the original Google search engine, broke up with his then-wife over text in 2014.
The divorce case itself is complex: the couple bifurcated the proceedings, dissolving the marriage and settling custody issues in May 2020, while leaving the division of their nearly $1.8 billion in assets as a separate issue. Since then, the couple has remained locked in a legal battle regarding how their assets will be divided. Huynh has accused Hassan of “divorce terrorism” for his actions during these proceedings.
Here’s what Hassan has done to warrant these accusations, how it may affect the couple’s assets, and how you can avoid similar situations in your own divorce.
Background on the Years-Long Separation
Scott Hassan and Allison Huynh had been married since 2001. In 2014, when Hassan chose to end their marriage, their combined net worth was pegged at more than a billion dollars. The couple had no prenuptial agreement. This laid the foundation for the dramatic legal battles to come.
Hassan and Huynh have made contradictory statements about how their early marriage was supported. Huynh states that she put her career on hold to support Hassan and their three children, along with helping Hassan pay off more than $60,000 in debt. Therefore she feels justified in fighting for half of the couple’s assets.
On the other hand, Hassan argues that he was debt-free and financially secure by the time the couple was married. Furthermore, he states that he had offered Huynh multiple post-nuptial agreements offering her a portion of his assets during and after their divorce. However, Huynh didn’t accept these post-nuptial agreements. She also disputes Hassan’s valuation of various assets and businesses, claiming that he’s trying to prevent her from receiving her rightful funds.
Part of the reason this divorce is so newsworthy is that the couple is going through the public courts. Unlike most other billionaire divorces, which are resolved through mediation, arbitration, or private judges, the proceedings for the Hassan-Huynh divorce are public. This means that publications like the New York Times can and will request the transcripts and files for each hearing, giving the public a look into the ins and outs of an incredibly high-asset separation. Furthermore, all accusations, including Huynh’s claim of “divorce terrorism,” are public and subject to discussion.
One of the reasons the Hassan-Huynh split is back in the news is because of their recent divorce hearing. Before the hearing, it became known that Huynh had accused Hassan of “divorce terrorism” of several different kinds.
First and foremost, Hassan had set up a website dedicated to making embarrassing information about Huynh’s past public after she had turned down a post-nuptial agreement he’d offered. Furthermore, Huynh claims that Hassan has stated he intends to “bury her” financially and make sure she “gets nothing” from their split. Between the reprehensible but not illegal act of putting up the website and the claims that Hassan is actively dragging out the proceedings, it’s clear that Huynh is facing an uphill battle in resolving the split fairly.
The Impact of Bad Behavior on Asset Division
Depending on the divorce, harassment from a partner can have several effects on how assets are divided. The goals of people who abuse their spouses during a divorce include hurting their partners and bullying them into unfair asset divisions.
Some people attempt to force their partners into granting unfair concessions during mediation. This can go as far as blackmail. Hassan’s posting of the embarrassing website is not in itself blackmail. Still, it shows that he is not afraid to retaliate with humiliating information if Huynh doesn’t grant him the concessions he wants. Any kind of bullying or pressure like this can be interpreted as coercion of the other spouse. Coerced mediation agreements are not legally binding under law, but the coerced spouse must challenge the agreement and prove that they were coerced before the order will be rescinded.
In court, this kind of pressure can still lead to unfair outcomes. The bullying spouse may try to force their partner to agree to inaccurate asset valuations or asset splits they don’t want. If that doesn’t work, many people do precisely what Huynh has accused Hassan of attempting to drag out the asset division process. This prevents either partner from accessing the funds, potentially putting pressure on the lower-income spouse to give in to the bullying partner’s demands just to get by.
Handling a Spouse’s Bad Behavior During Divorce
While Scott Hassan’s behavior is some of the best-publicized character assassination of an ex-spouse in recent years, he’s definitely not alone in his actions. If your spouse is acting up, you have options.
Spouse isn’t responding to filings: If your spouse doesn’t respond to your filing at all, you can request a default judgment. In this case, the judge will grant you everything you request; your spouse’s failure to respond is seen as complete agreement to the terms. You will have to prove that you’ve served your spouse correctly, but you’ll be done.
Spouse constantly requests extensions or cancels depositions: If your spouse tries to cancel or extend a deadline three times, you deny the request and file a formal motion with a judge to issue fines or other punishments against your partner. This can convince your spouse to start responding on time.
Spouse defaming you: Defamation is a hurtful statement that risks damaging your reputation and harms your career, finances, or community relationships. If your spouse is defaming you, you can work with your divorce attorney to file a civil suit against your spouse to force them to stop telling lies. No matter what, you should stand firm like Huynh did and refuse to let your spouse pressure you into unfair agreements.
Finish Your Divorce Without Any More Conflict
Most divorces lead to hurt feelings and conflict. However, that doesn’t mean your split needs to be as messy as the Hassan-Huynh separation. If you’re dealing with a partner who’s trying to make the divorce process harder, get help. Whether they’re defaming you, delaying the process, or trying to keep you from getting your fair share of the marital assets, a qualified divorce attorney can help you fight back. Reach out for your free consultation today to get your separation back on track.