There is no denying that prenuptial agreements have a bad reputation. Many people see them as a way to focus on ending the marriage before it’s even begun, and the media hype doesn’t do these legal contracts any favors. The fact of the matter is, however, that prenuptial agreements can make good financial sense and are rarely implemented in bad faith – or as a sort of get out of jail free card.
Marriage is an immense commitment, and a solid prenuptial agreement can allow both parties the peace of mind necessary to move forward with that commitment. If your spouse-to-be is on the fence on the matter, there are several things you can do that may help move the needle in the right direction. To help ensure that your prenuptial agreement works for you, work closely with an experienced California prenuptial agreement attorney.
In the State of California, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act is employed. As such, prenuptial agreements must be in writing and must be signed by both parties prior to marriage – going into effect upon marriage. Prenuptial agreements are legal contracts, which means that contract law applies. Consider the following:
- Prenups require valid consent, which means that both spouses must have the mental capacity to provide consent.
- The consent cannot be obtained via fraud, error, or inappropriate influence.
- Each party entering the prenuptial agreement must have the agreement for at least seven days before a signature is required (time to consult with a seasoned prenup attorney).
- Each party must be represented by separate legal counsel (unless this right is waived after receiving all relevant information about the agreement’s terms in writing). In such situations, however, any terms related to alimony may not be enforceable.
No matter how open the lines of communication are between you and your soon-to-be spouse, the topic of a prenuptial agreement can be difficult to bring up. If you don’t proceed with caution, the subtext to your request can come off as I love you, but I don’t trust you, which can chill the matrimonial spirit.
If you and your intended are both relatively young, are just getting started in terms of your earnings, don’t have much in the way of assets, have no inheritances on the horizon, and don’t have any children from previous relationships, it’s unlikely that you need a prenuptial agreement. The fact is, however, that couples are marrying later in life, and when the above factors are applicable, a prenuptial agreement can make a lot of sense. For example, if either of you brings a child into the marriage with you, the surest way to help protect his or her full rights of inheritance is via a prenup.
A prenuptial agreement is in no way an indictment of your love or relationship, and making this clear from the outset can help. The fact is that divorce is extremely stressful, and it is not unusual for the negotiations to head south – even when both spouses are fully invested in keeping things on an even keel. Because divorce is extremely unpredictable, a prenuptial agreement can provide you with the structure – based on the best interests of both of you (as hammered out prior to marriage) – necessary to move forward with greater insight (as opposed to floundering). In fact, knowing that you have this structure in place can allow you the space you both need to focus on making your marriage strong – decreasing the risk of a divorce in the first place.
A prenup allows you to address important matters such as the following:
- The amount and duration of alimony in the event of divorce
- The allocation of debt in the event of divorce
- The division of marital assets in the event of divorce
- The matter of separate property (without a prenup, it can be much more difficult to maintain the line between marital property and separate property)
- The matter of inheritance for any children who belong to only one of you
- The matter of wills and trusts – and the distribution of assets upon either spouse’s death
In other words, a prenup can be very pragmatic, and focusing on this pragmatism tends to be the best approach.
Discuss Your Concerns with an Experienced California Prenuptial Agreement Attorney Today
A seasoned California prenup attorney can help you successfully address the matter of a prenup with your soon-to-be spouse.