The first thing many people think when they hear the words "prenuptial agreement" is "divorce." While prenuptial agreements can make divorce less complicated, stressful, and expensive, having a prenuptial agreement does not mean that you are planning for divorce. In fact, taking the time to come to agreement on important issues before marriage can improve communication, remove confusion, and lay the groundwork for a more successful marriage.
Who Can Benefit from a California Prenuptial Agreement?
California prenuptial agreements can benefit people in a variety of situations. While prenuptial agreements usually deal with finances, debt, and property, they can resolve any issue that is not against public policy (for instance, you cannot agree in a prenup to give up the right of future children to child support). Some circumstances in which a prenup can be useful include:
- One or both parties to the marriage have been married before and want to the inheritance rights of children of the first marriage;
- One party enters the marriage with a lot of debt and doesn't want to saddle the other party with it;
- One party owns an interest in a business or professional practice that they want to keep separate from marital property;
- One party has inherited or expects to inherit assets that they want to keep separate;
- The parties want to clarify how they will manage finances during their marriage;
- The parties want to avoid costly litigation and disputes over finances or property division in the event that they divorce.
In short, anyone who wants to have a clear understanding about property and financial issues with their spouse from the outset can benefit from a prenuptial agreement.
California Prenuptial Agreement Law
Prenuptial agreements in California are governed by the Uniform Prenuptial Agreements Act (UPAA). That law states that a prenuptial agreement takes effect upon marriage, and that it can be revoked or amended in writing by the parties after marriage. A California prenuptial agreement will be enforceable unless:
- One party did not execute the agreement voluntarily; OR
- The agreement was unconscionable (grossly unfair) when made, AND the party against whom enforcement is sought was not given full and fair financial disclosure from the other party; they did not voluntarily waive their right to such disclosure; and they could not reasonably have known the information that should have been disclosed.
Before signing a prenup, both parties must either have independent counsel review the agreement or waive their right to independent counsel. If the agreement is written in English, and one party is not fluent in English, the agreement should be translated into his or her native language.
A couple may also sign an agreement after marriage; such an agreement is called a post-nuptial agreement rather than a prenuptial agreement.
California Family Law Attorneys Serving California's Central Coast
At Comstock & Wagner, divorce and family law, including prenuptial agreements, are all we do. Our attorneys are California board-certified family law specialists who have demonstrated extensive experience and professional ethics in the practice of family law. They must also meet a number of other certification requirements. Our attorneys regularly draft and review prenuptial agreements on behalf of our clients, taking care that agreements are fair and enforceable, and that our clients understand what they are agreeing to.
The attorneys of Comstock & Wagner also represent clients in litigation regarding the enforceability of prenuptial agreements. We are accomplished litigators, committed to protecting our clients' interests in court.
Comstock & Wagner is conveniently located in a private building with off-street parking near the courthouse in Santa Maria. The firm represents clients throughout the central coast of California, including Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo.
If you have questions about California prenuptial agreements, we invite you to contact Comstock & Wagner to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.