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Prenuptial Agreement: Your Step By Step Guide

Prenuptial Agreement: Your Step By Step Guide

A prenuptial agreement, or premarital agreement, in California is a contract a couple enters into before marriage that establishes the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce. In California, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) governs all premarital agreements.

Marriage is a contract between a couple that comes with certain rights and privileges under the law.  Without a prenuptial agreement, a spouse generally has the following rights:

  • Shared ownership of marital property;
  • Shared debts during the marriage that both parties may be liable for;
  • Shared management and control of any marital property. 

Reasons For A Prenuptial Agreement

There are many reasons couples of even moderate-income are now entering into prenuptial agreements.  Some couples prefer to define the financial rights and responsibilities of a marriage beforehand.  In the event one party to the marriage has a lot of debt, a prenuptial agreement can protect one spouse from the debts of the other. 

A prenuptial agreement can be used as a means to pass separate property to children from prior marriages or divide property in advance between those children and a current spouse.  No matter the reason, prenuptial agreements can minimize conflict in case of divorce by agreeing in advance about the division of assets and debts

What To Include In A Prenuptial Agreement

When deciding what to put in a prenuptial agreement, there are a number of topics a couple should discuss.  First, couples need to know each other’s assets and debts prior to the marriage. 

Couples should then talk about how marital property, including income and debts, will be shared by the parties and if one spouse or both plans to manage marital assets and income.  Future spouses should know how the other feels about acquiring new marital credit and debt. 

The expectations of working and household contributions are important for the parties to know.  If one person works outside the home, and the other rears children, both of these occupations have a value to the marriage and should be considered. 

Finally, a couple may determine whether or not there is alimony in the event of a divorce.  Although it is a hard subject to discuss, doing so in advance can save the parties a potential battle later.

What Is Not Permitted In A California Prenuptial Agreement

There are some provisions that may not be included in a California prenuptial agreement.  These include the following:

  • A future spouse cannot waive their right to share in an ERISA governed employee benefit plan;
  • A prenuptial agreement cannot include anything that is illegal;
  • Agreements between parents about child-rearing are generally unenforceable;
  • A prenuptial agreement that attempts to blame a spouse and fault them for misconduct is not enforceable;
  • A spouse also can’t waive the financial and property disclosures required in divorce beyond any waiver already allowed by law;
  • A prenuptial agreement cannot promote divorce by making it an attractive option to one spouse or the other. 

Additionally, a prenuptial agreement cannot change the duties of marriage.  Marital duties include the duties of mutual respect, fidelity, and support. 

Contact An Experienced Torrance, California, Prenuptial Agreement Attorney

It is in your best interest to speak with an experienced prenuptial agreement attorney when deciding to create a prenuptial agreement.  Your attorney can give you legal advice about the terms you wish to include in your prenuptial agreement and help ensure your prenuptial agreement will hold up in court.

The Law Office of Bruce A. Mandel can take your intentions and needs for a prenuptial agreement and solidify them into an enforceable, valid contract.  California prenuptial laws can be complex and difficult to interpret.  Call the Law Office of Bruce A. Mandel today to schedule a free consultation about your prenuptial agreement.