The Validity of Marital Agreements in California

The California Family Code allows prospective spouses and married couples to contract with each other about their respective rights to personal or marital property, regardless of when, where or how that property is acquired. These agreements are valid without consideration. Prenuptial agreements become effective upon marriage, while postnuptial agreements are legally binding as soon as they’re signed. They can only be revoked or amended with a subsequent written agreement. Of course, this assumes that the agreement is initially valid.

From downtown San Jose, Fremont and Morgan Hill, The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer, our attorneys handle all aspects of premarital and postnuptial agreements. We have more than 30 years of combined experience in marital law and business law, so we have all the skills necessary to negotiate, draft, challenge and defend marital agreements.


Because marital agreements are usually created as a hedge against California’s community property law, the state has an interest in ensuring that these agreements are executed in a fair manner, without fraud, concealment, undue influence or duress. To be judged valid, an agreement must satisfy these criteria:

  • The party being held to the agreement had independent counsel at the time of the signing or expressly waived that right in a separate legal agreement.
  • The party being held to the agreement had no less than seven days between being presented with the agreement and signing, and had been advised to seek independent legal counsel.
  • If the party being held to the agreement was not represented by independent counsel, that party had been informed of the force and effect of the agreement and had been presented with a separate writing memorializing that understanding prior to signing the agreement.
  • The party being held to the agreement signed voluntarily with full knowledge and with the capacity to understand.

While these laws seek to protect unsophisticated parties in relationships with a great disparity of wealth, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are increasingly popular among professional couples with independent careers.


In this day and age, most people recognize the importance of a prenuptial agreement when they plan to marry someone with significantly less wealth. But what happens when two people enter a marriage on an even financial footing, but one spouse’s career takes off, creating a great difference in their financial contributions to the marriage? If the marriage undergoes stress, as all marriages do, the high earner may decide to divorce immediately to protect future earnings. Under those circumstances, a postnuptial agreement allowing the high earner to declare some assets as personal property could actually relieve some of the pressure on the couple’s relationship. Our family attorneys have helped couples in Santa Clara and Alameda counties structure their assets in a manner that gives them peace of mind.


We recognize that detailed information and direct human contact with your lawyer go a long way to developing the confidence you need to see your situation through to a successful conclusion. That’s why we make every effort to engage with you personally, remain accessible, and deliver prompt results. If you have questions about how a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement affects your property rights, talk to an experienced attorney who you can trust. Talk to our lawyers at The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer. For a free consultation, contact us today.

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