PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS IN CALIFORNIA
A prenuptial agreement is a contract both future spouses sign before they get married. The prenuptial agreement outlines how the debts and marital assets will be divided should the couple become divorced. Typically, prenuptial agreements list all assets and debts each partner is bringing into the marriage. You and your soon-to-be spouse will have a say in a majority of what goes into your prenuptial agreement. However, there will likely be some exceptions.
Typically, a prenuptial agreement covers the following:
- Each spouse’s right to separate and marital property
- Each spouse’s entitlement to spousal support
- Each spouse’s right to buy, sell, transfer, spend, or manage property and assets during the marriage
- Each spouse’s right to death benefits from the other party’s life insurance policy
- Protection of one spouse from the debts of the other
- The making of a will in support of the agreement
- The state law governing the agreement
- Property division upon separation, death, or divorce
California law states that seven calendar days must pass between the time one party is first presented with the final agreement and advised to seek legal counsel and the time the agreement is signed.
POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENTS IN CALIFORNIA
A postnuptial agreement does the same thing as a prenuptial agreement; it allows spouses to protect their assets and outline how other issues will be addressed in the event of divorce. However, as its name suggests, a postnuptial agreement is signed after a couple has already been married.
Most postnuptial agreements are created by couples planning to divorce in the near future. These documents can help expedite the divorce process and make the transition smoother for everyone involved. A married person who suddenly comes into a large sum of money may also choose to create a postnuptial agreement.
A postnuptial agreement can address a variety of topics, including:
- The division of assets and marital property
- Premarital assets
- Retirement and 401(k) accounts
- Spousal support (also known as alimony)
- Child custody and child support
- Pet ownership
- Death-related legal issues
Unlike a prenuptial agreement, which is considered valid the day that it’s signed, a postnuptial agreement is considered invalid until it has been approved by a family court judge. Consider working with a family law attorney as you draft your postnuptial agreement. They can educate you on what aspects a judge will look for and help you decide what details to include.
THE VALUE OF MARITAL AGREEMENTS
Contrary to popular belief, marital agreements are not just for the wealthy. They can be particularly useful in second marriages in which one or both spouses have children or assets they are bringing into the equation.
There are a number of reasons to establish a marital agreement, some of which include:
- Outlining specifically what will happen in the event of a divorce or the death of a spouse
- Protecting any inheritances of children from your previous marriage
- Preventing the divorce process from becoming contentious
- Negotiating the terms of the divorce between you and your future ex-spouse, rather than bringing a third party (like a mediator or judge)