Prenuptial Agreements in California
If you're planning to get married, creating a prenuptial agreement (also known as a "prenup" or premarital agreement) may be the last thing on your to-do list. This is your wedding, after all, and there are meals to plan, events to schedule, tables to decorate, and honeymoon tickets to book. Drafting a prenuptial agreement, however, is one thing you and your future spouse should absolutely consider doing together. "Prenups" get a bad name, but for unjustifiable reasons. Instead of seeing it as a foreshadowing of potential disaster for you and your fiancé's future marriage, you should see it as merely a preventative measure that can end up protecting you and your spouse in the future. Should anything ever go wrong in your marriage resulting in a divorce, or legal separation, a prenuptial agreement can save your assets or property for safekeeping, and keep your financial future secure.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
Prenuptial agreements in California are governed by California's Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), and have applied to prenuptial agreements since 1986. According to California Family Law Code Section 1610, a premarital agreement is "an agreement made by an engaged couple that will take effect when they get married." In its essence, the act states that prenuptial agreements must be written and willfully signed by both parties, and will go into effect once the couple is legally joined in marriage.
Most importantly, the act sets out very specific guidelines as to what can or can't be included in a prenuptial agreement, and pays close attention to defining what property is. Prenuptial agreements can include anything financial, or can dictate anything of value, such as property division. It cannot dictate, enforce, affect, or control future child support, child custody, spousal support stipulations because financial circumstances are constantly in flux, and can change at any time. Prenuptial agreements cannot enforce issues such as infidelity, religion, or child-rearing methods.
Perhaps the most important requirement of any prenuptial agreement is that it must be made in valid and voluntary consent from both parties. If consent was given in any fraudulent way, such as force, influence, or manipulation, the prenuptial agreement is invalid and any future alimony will be unenforceable. To prevent this from happening and to protect your future assets, seek legal guidance from an experienced Santa Clarita family law lawyer at Cutter & Lax. Our attorneys can explain the specifics of prenuptial agreement laws in California and help you decide how to best proceed with yours.
Drafting a Valid Prenuptial Agreement with a Santa Clarita Family Law Lawyer
The state of California has implemented several requirements to meet when anyone is considering or in the process of drafting a prenuptial agreement. The list of requirements is meant to protect both parties in the event of a divorce or a legal separation, but you should first consult with a family law attorney that is both knowledgeable in prenuptial agreements and attentive to the well-being of your family to seek optimal security for your future. When working with your Santa Clarita family law lawyer, be prepared to fulfill the following requirements for your prenuptial agreements:
- Prenuptial agreements must be voluntarily written and willingly signed by both parties.
- Prenuptial agreements must be written after a full-disclosure of property, financial obligations (including owned businesses or debts) from both parties
- Prenuptial agreements must be written under legal counsel (or expressly waived)
- If one party waives professional counsel and prefers individual counsel, the party must sign for having understood the rights and obligations they may be giving up by entering into the agreement
It is our belief that it is much better to be safe than sorry. Entering into a prenuptial agreement may be complex, but having a safety net for your future is better than having nothing. Because a prenuptial agreement addresses such serious elements of your future, it is of the upmost importance that you seek the right legal guidance from an experienced lawyer. The attorneys at Cutter & Lax have over 30 years of experience in family law. We also believe that experience is not the only thing that makes a great lawyer. We bring compassion and understanding to your prenuptial agreements, and are committed to representing your best interests when there is so much on the line.
Without proper legal guidance, there is a good chance that your prenuptial agreement may be seen as invalid in court. As a result, your security net could drop and you could be left in a time of distress which is exactly what you wanted to avoid. A well written prenuptial agreement can make the difference in your future as well as your children and your spouse. Speaking with the attorneys at Cutter & Lax is a great place to start. Contact our firm or fill out our case evaluation to get started.