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Could looming divorce change Zynga's power structure?

The founder and chairman of Zynga, which is arguably the world's favorite developer of online social games like Farmville and Words With Friends, is getting a divorce.

Like many people with a lot of assets, he had a prenuptial agreement drawn up before he married his wife. However, his wife is challenging its terms. If she's successful, that could mean that the man who now owns 70 percent of Zynga's shareholder vote could eventually lose the tight control he has over the company, since he may have to liquidate some of his holdings in order to divide up his property evenly under California's law.

It's important to note that prenups are actually hard to challenge in California. The current court filings haven't revealed the basis for the challenge, but there are only a few reasons that the court will generally consider:

-- The agreement wasn't properly executed, due to some technical failing.

-- The signer was pressured into the agreement. Generally, a prenup has to be presented and signed a significant amount of time before the actual wedding to avoid the appearance of last-minute pressure.

-- There are invalid provisions or it heavily favors one spouse over the other to the point of being grossly unfair.

-- One spouse lied about his or her finances or withheld information about finances and assets -- essentially deceiving the signer from the start.

-- The signer didn't have independent counsel at the time the prenup was signed, which means there was nobody looking out for his or her legal rights.

Challenging a prenup can also be risky -- it can cause the challenger to lose any benefits that his or her spouse previously agreed to give in the written agreement.

Experts point out, however, that divorce is never just a family affair when big business is involved. Divorce can shake up a company by changing its major stakeholders, key players, or even impact the strategy and thinking of the person going through the divorce -- which could ultimately lead to unwise decisions and risky behavior.

If you're going through a high-profile divorce that could affect your business holdings, seek legal counsel immediately in order to lessen the impact on both your personal and professional lives.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Divorce may loosen Pincus' grip on Zynga," Thomas Le, April 05, 2017

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