Prenuptial agreements have existed for a long time, but it is becoming more common for couples to enter into them before marriage. These agreements can be useful tools for protecting finances if couples decide to divorce. Unfortunately, there can also be some less desirable consequences of entering into a prenuptial agreement.
Family law attorney Bruce A. Mandel represents clients in marital agreement matters, and we know that prenuptial agreements are only useful if they are valid and binding instruments that comply with California law. We also know that it is important to understand the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements before deciding to enter into one.
Prenuptial Agreement Pros
- When everything goes according to plan, dividing assets in a divorce should be, and often is, a much easier process when a marital agreement is in place.
- Prenuptial agreements can help protect finances for a spouse who comes to the marriage with significantly more income and assets than the other spouse.
- Marital agreements can limit the amount of spousal support paid by one spouse and guarantee the amount of child support paid to the other spouse.
- An agreement can protect one spouse from debt incurred by his or her spouse.
Prenuptial Agreement Cons
- Unexpected events such as job loss, having children, and business successes may not have been contemplated at the time the agreement was made. This may leave spouses with regrets about agreeing to certain terms and leaving certain terms out of the agreement.
- Once married, spouses may change their minds about how generous they should have been with agreed upon spousal support or how much they were willing to accept for spousal support.
- When one person has significantly more assets and income, the other spouse may feel pressured to accept the agreement to prove that he or she is not going into the marriage for money.
Invalidating A Prenuptial Agreement
The validity of prenuptial agreements can be, and often are, challenged at the time of a couple’s divorce. Under California law, an agreement can be invalidated if one spouse was not honest about his or her assets, income, and debt. An agreement can also be invalidated if a judge finds that the agreement was unconscionable, or that one spouse was pressured into signing it.
Instead of invalidating an entire agreement, judges may strike specific terms such as those related to the amount of child support one party agrees to pay to the other. Child support and child custody matters cannot be decided in a prenuptial agreement under California law.
Prenuptial Agreement Attorney
If you are thinking about signing a prenuptial agreement or if you are seeking to enforce or invalidate a prenuptial agreement in California, attorney Bruce A. Mandel can help. I represent clients in all aspects of family law, including prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements.