Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google and seventh-richest man in the world, has filed for divorce from Nicole Shanahan, his wife of nearly four years. The couple first got married in November 2018, after the birth of their daughter earlier in the year.
Brin filed for divorce in January of this year after separating from Shanahan in December 2021. The couple is in the process of dividing their marital assets, but the specifics of their choices aren’t clear. They have remained extremely private about their proceedings throughout the process, stating that they feared for their daughter’s safety due to Brin’s financial status.
Brin’s net worth rests at $107 billion, just behind Larry Page, his fellow Google co-founder. In the court documents filed by Brin’s attorney, it’s said, “Because of the high-profile nature of their relationship, there is likely to be significant public interest in their dissolution and child custody issues. Of great concern is that such publicity puts their minor child at risk of danger, harassment, and even kidnapping, if the specifics of their day-to-day whereabouts are exposed to the public.”
To protect their daughter, Shanahan and Brin have taken every precaution to keep their split private and out of the news. Compared to similar recent billionaire divorces like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, they’ve been quite successful. Keep reading to learn how Brin and Shanahan are keeping their divorce private and what you can learn from their split to keep your own divorce private and efficient.
How Brin Is Handling the Divorce
To make it clear how successful the pair has been at keeping their divorce private, it took five months before knowledge of their divorce became public. That’s unheard of for high-profile, high-net-worth divorces. How have the couple kept the public eye off their split for so long?
The secret is that Brin and Shanahan have chosen to work with a private judge to resolve their divorce. In California, couples can request a private or “temporary” judge to oversee their splits. California permits private judges as a way to reduce the load on the public legal system. These judges have all the rights and responsibilities of public judges but don’t operate through the public court system.
That has two significant consequences for divorcing couples. First, private judges don’t require you to schedule your split based on the public court system’s schedule. Working with a private judge can significantly speed up the process by cutting months of scheduling delays caused by overcrowded family courts.
Second, private judges don’t make everything a matter of public record. The only documents that become public are the initial filing and the final decree. The decree can reference separate documents, keeping the actual details of things like child custody agreements or asset division private. This is significantly better for your privacy than public courts, where everything stated in court becomes a matter of public record, accessible by anyone interested.
What He Did Right (and Wrong) Financially
Brin isn’t a stranger to the difficulties of getting divorced while one of the wealthiest men in the world. He’s been divorced once before, in 2015. During that split, he learned quite a bit about keeping his personal life and legal situation private. He also learned important lessons about how to keep his finances under control during a divorce. Here are a few of the most essential things Brin did right in his current divorce, as well as one thing he did wrong that may come back to cause complications.
His Best Divorce Decisions
So, what did Sergey learn from his past split that has made his current one so successful? He clearly took three lessons from his last split that kept his current divorce going smoothly.
- Don’t hesitate to end a marriage that isn’t working. Brin and Shanahan were married for less than four years before Brin filed for divorce. They were only unofficially “separated” for a month before that. Brin clearly learned that it’s not worth dragging out a marriage that isn’t working. This reduces the marital assets involved in the proceedings and allows both parties to move on with their lives as soon as possible.
- Always get a prenuptial agreement. While it’s unclear whether Brin has a prenuptial agreement with Shanahan, he did have one with his previous ex-wife. That makes it likely he has one in his current marriage, too. His first prenup allowed him to maintain his status among the top ten richest people in the world, and his second one likely will as well.
- Work with a private judge. Working with a private judge is one of the best things Brin and Shanahan could have done during their split. It has allowed them to keep their privacy, protect their child, and avoid long delays connected to the public courts. As such, they’re likely to finalize their divorce significantly faster than they would in other circumstances.
His One Divorce Mistake
With all of the things Brin has done right, there’s just one thing he’s done wrong that may make the split more complicated. Just months before he first separated from Shanahan, the couple bought a $13.5 million home in Malibu.
Buying a home when a divorce is in the offing is never a good idea. Real estate is one of the more complicated assets to divide fairly in a divorce. Many couples elect to sell shared real estate or award it to one party and grant the other assets of equivalent value. However, if the pair had held off on buying a new home for another six months, they wouldn’t have had to navigate this issue at all.
Keep Your Split as Streamlined as Sergey Brin’s with Expert Legal Help
Brin clearly understands how to keep a divorce moving along smoothly. You can have a similarly smooth and private experience by working with the experienced divorce attorneys at Kasper & Lugay, LLP. Our qualified team can help you streamline your split and keep things on track. Schedule your free consultation to learn how we can support you during your split.