Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
California law allows people who are planning to get married or who are already married to enter into binding agreements that can control the issues related to property division and how financial matters will be handled should the marriage end in divorce. Below is some basic information about what these agreements can and cannot cover and when courts may declare them unenforceable. For more information, call our office to speak with a family law attorney.
When a couple enters into a contract that addresses the division of property and financial matters before they are married, it is referred to as a “prenuptial agreement.” Couples have significant discretion regarding what to put into or leave out of a prenuptial agreement, and they will generally be enforceable unless the agreement is found to be unconscionable and certain disclosure requirements are not met, the agreement is in violation of public policy, or the agreement was not entered into voluntarily. Furthermore, provisions related to spousal support (alimony) are only enforceable in cases in which the party the agreement is sought to be enforced against had independent legal counsel at the time the agreement was executed.
Postnuptial agreements, on the other hand, are entered into after a couple has already been married. They are very similar in scope and purpose to prenuptial agreements but are used in very different circumstances. For example, if a couple has been married for some time and would like to convert separate property that was brought into the marriage to community property, this can be accomplished through a postnuptial agreement. Similarly, if one of the parties is expecting a windfall as a result of activities completely separate from his or her spouse, a postnuptial agreement can prevent newly acquired assets from becoming community property. Because spouses owe one another a fiduciary duty, courts often view postnuptial agreements with skepticism if they significantly favor one party over the other. As a result, anyone seeking to enter into a postnuptial agreement should ensure that both they and their spouse are represented by legal counsel.
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Contact our office to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to learn more about the options available and if an annulment is the best option for you. Initial consultations are completely free and will leave you better informed and prepared for whatever you decide to do.