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How To Equip Yourself For A California Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial Agreements

This article discusses:

  • What a prenuptial agreement is.
  • If California courts always honor or uphold prenuptial agreements.
  • How a prenuptial agreement can be deemed invalid.

What Is A Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement you can make with your to-be spouse before getting married.

These agreements manage how you and your spouse will deal with your income, assets, property, and debts during your marriage, and specifically for if your marriage ends in divorce. It also allows you to touch on how you will deal with estate planning but does not take the place of actual estate planning.

In California, a prenuptial agreement does not allow you to address child support or custody issues even if you wish to.

Will The Courts In California Always Uphold A Prenuptial Agreement?

California courts do not always uphold prenuptial agreements. The question will not only be was it fair when it was entered into, but also is it fair now at the time of enforcement.  California’s community property laws protect premarital assets fairly stringently, which is part of why courts do not always uphold prenuptial agreements. Like various other aspects of prenuptial agreements, this reality is something you are likely unaware of. Yet, it is an integral part of what our practice discusses with most clients.

You can think of prenuptial agreements as facelifts. “If you are going to get one, it better be a good one. A bad one could put you in a worse situation than if you did not get one at all.” This analogy very visibly illustrates some legal realities that come with prenuptial agreements. Unfortunately, we have seen this happen to people who relied in a prenuptial agreement to protect them and their assets in case of divorce.

When clients approach us intending to protect premarital assets, we raise several questions because, depending on the type of asset, California law essentially protects premarital for the most part by defining them as separate property.

Because California community property laws are as they are, prenuptial agreements primarily focus on new assets. Even then, prenuptial agreements do not protect you from your own bad decisions.

As an example, if you received an inheritance before or after you are married, the inheritance will remain your separate property. However, suppose you decided to put it in a shared account with your spouse’s name on it during the marriage where you each also deposit your wages. The nature and amount of the inheritance will become more complicated to carve out later.

So even with a prenuptial agreement, you must ensure your actions align with your goals throughout the marriage.

What Would Render A Prenuptial Agreement Unenforceable In California?

Courts primarily examine the timing and circumstances surrounding the entering into of the prenuptial agreement when rendering a prenuptial agreement unenforceable. Statutory law in California puts a 7-day timeline on the parties for the prenuptial agreement.  Additionally, a court will consider whether counsel represented your spouse and if they had an opportunity to sufficiently review the agreement before being asked to sign it.

Some situations invalidate agreements, including instances where:

  • A language barrier exists where one party does not speak English proficiently and is not provided a version in their native language.
  • One party does not have an attorney, and there is an indication that they did not come to the contract freely or voluntarily.
  • The person was presented with the prenuptial agreement to sign less than 7 days before they were married.

Can One Party’s Actions Invalidate A Prenuptial Agreement In California?

One party’s actions can get a prenuptial agreement invalidated.

For example, if you have a prenuptial agreement that seems legitimate and enforceable but have written communication from the other party threatening to cancel your wedding if you do not sign that prenuptial agreement, this could be grounds to invalidate an agreement.

Additionally, some things outside the prenuptial agreement might later show that both parties did not necessarily enter the agreement freely and voluntarily. The most significant thing would be not fully disclosing your assets.

If you sign documentation stating that you received an asset and debt disclosure but never actually received it, and it can be later shown that you never received it, that would be grounds for invalidation later.

With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Prenuptial Agreements, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are in good hands.

For more information on Prenuptial Agreement Law in California, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (858) 225-4840 today.

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