Last-minute prenuptial agreements are frowned upon in California, and both parties are required to have at least seven days to review the document before signing. If your wedding is tomorrow and both of you have had the document for at least seven days, you may still have time to execute the agreement. If both of you have not had the contract for seven days, you will have to take other measures to protect your rights and assets.
Attorney Bruce A. Mandel represents clients in all types of family law matters, including prenuptial agreements. He knows California’s marital agreement laws, and he understands the importance of protecting your rights should your marriage end in divorce. Even if you do not have time to enter into a prenuptial agreement before your wedding, you may enter into a postnuptial agreement afterward.
Prenuptial Agreement Requirements
Under California law, prenuptial agreements must comply with the following requirements:
- The agreement must be in writing
- Signed by both parties
- Each party has a minimum of seven days to review the agreement before signing
- The parties were each represented by independent attorneys or waived (in writing) independent legal representation
If your prenuptial agreement fails to comply with any of these requirements, it may be unenforceable in California. See below for additional conduct and factors that may invalidate agreement terms.
Prenuptial Agreement Terms
Prenuptial agreements typically cover each spouse’s rights and responsibilities for debts and assets already existing and those acquired after the marriage. Marital agreements can also be used for estate planning purposes, especially when one or both parties have children from a previous relationship.
Spousal support terms are common in prenuptial agreements, but California courts look at these terms with scrutiny when challenged in a divorce. Prenuptial agreements are often entered into when one party has significantly more assets than the other party, but courts won’t approve spousal support terms that they deem unconscionable.
Marital agreements can also be helpful when one party owns a business and wants to keep business profits and ownership separate from marital assets. Life insurance policies and benefits are frequently addressed in these agreements as well.
Invalid Terms And Agreements
Before executing a prenuptial agreement, both parties must fully disclose all debts and assets, including bank accounts, real estate, and investments. If full disclosure is not made by one party, courts will generally determine that the agreement is unenforceable. Courts will also invalidate a prenuptial agreement that was unconscionable at the time it was executed.
For example, as mentioned above, courts carefully scrutinize spousal support terms. Suppose one spouse’s amount of support under the agreement terms is significantly lower than he or she would get under court-ordered support in a divorce. In that case, the agreement may be determined to be unconscionable and invalid.
Agreements are unenforceable if it can be shown that one party did not voluntarily enter into the agreement. Demonstrating that one party signed the agreement under fraud or duress can also invalidate the contract. Additionally, some terms are unenforceable, such as those that dictate child custody or support matters, and courts will not recognize them.
Postnuptial agreements are similar to prenuptial agreements, but they are entered into after a couple is married. Sometimes couples intend to execute prenuptial agreements but don’t get it done before the wedding. Other times their circumstances change after marriage, and they decide that it would be in their best interests to sign a postnuptial agreement.
Unlike prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements are not valid until they have been approved by a California court. Any terms that waive spousal support are even more heavily scrutinized by courts in postnuptial agreements than in prenuptial agreements.
In California, spouses have a fiduciary duty to one another, which means they must enter into postnuptial agreements in good faith and fair dealings. Because of this fiduciary duty, courts will generally only approve postnuptial agreements that are fair to each spouse and do not significantly benefit one spouse more than the other.
California Prenuptial Agreement Attorney
If you are getting married and are considering a marital agreement, contact California prenuptial agreement attorney Bruce A. Mandel to schedule a free consultation. We understand how important it is to protect your rights and interests. We will discuss your marital agreement terms and how they will impact you in the future should your marriage end in divorce.