Most people who get married are not thinking about what may happen down the road if the marriage doesn’t work out. The reality, of course, is that what begins with a picture-perfect wedding could fall apart years later. For this reason, California allows couples to enter into prenuptial agreements (before the marriage) and postnuptial agreements (after the marriage).
While you may not be contemplating a divorce at this stage of your relationship, long-term planning is smart for both you and your significant other. Having the right agreement in place means having a law firm that understands your needs and how best to meet them. That’s why you can count on MacKay & Martin, LLP.
A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract that is created by two people who are getting married. The agreement defines each person’s financial rights and obligations during the marriage and in the case of a divorce. Some people believe that prenuptial agreements are only for wealthy people or for couples who have been married before, but this isn’t true. Prenuptial agreements can be beneficial for any couple who wants to protect their assets and their financial future. At Martin Family Law Group, our Los Angeles prenuptial agreement attorneys are ready to help you plan for your future. Call (310) 694-9533 today to schedule a free consultation.
Prenuptial agreements are typically drafted by one party’s attorney and then reviewed by the other party’s attorney. Once the agreement is signed, it is legally binding.
In the event of a divorce, the terms of the prenuptial agreement will be enforced by the court. This means that each person will keep the assets that they owned prior to the marriage and will be responsible for their own debts. The agreement may also specify how much spousal support will be paid and for how long.
When spouses in California divorce, a court must determine which assets are community property. Without an agreement to the contrary, courts presume that all property and earnings acquired during the marriage are community property subject to a 50/50 division between the spouses.
However, California law allows couples who are about to marry to enter into agreements as to how they will handle their respective property rights upon divorce. These agreements are especially valuable where one or both spouses own a business or have substantial financial assets or property prior to their marriage. More specifically, a prenuptial may serve the following purposes, among others:
There are limits, however, to what a prenuptial agreement can accomplish. For instance, an agreement cannot predetermine what child support will be, since California courts will need to examine the amount of support that is appropriate under state guidelines. The same is true with respect to child custody and visitation. The prenuptial agreement may be used to waive spousal support, but not if doing so would leave a spouse destitute. A spousal support waiver is also not enforceable if one spouse didn’t understand that he or she would be signing away their right to seek support.
While no one likes to think about the possibility of their marriage ending in divorce, it’s important to be proactive and protect yourself financially in case it does. Here are some of the benefits of having a prenup:
If you get divorced without a prenup, you’ll likely have to split all your assets (like your house, savings account, etc.) evenly with your ex. However, if you have a prenup in place, you can specify exactly who gets what ahead of time. This can save you time and money because you will not have to go through the process of negotiating and litigating these issues in court.
If you have assets that you want to keep separate from your spouse in the event of a divorce, or if you want to make sure that your children from a previous marriage are provided for, a prenuptial agreement can do that. You can use a prenuptial agreement to protect your business interests, real estate holdings, investments, inheritance, and other property.
When you enter into a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse will have a clear understanding of your rights and obligations during marriage and in the event of a divorce. This can give you peace of mind knowing that there will be no surprises down the road.
Before you sign a prenuptial agreement, it’s important to make sure it will be valid and enforceable. This requires the following:
While many people are familiar with prenuptial agreements, not as many have heard of postnuptial agreements. These are similar in nature to prenuptial agreements, except they are entered into after the marriage.
Married couples enter into postnuptial agreements for largely the same reasons they enter into prenuptial agreements. Perhaps the couple simply overlooked or didn’t consider a prenuptial, and now they wish to define their respective marital property rights.
In some cases, postnuptial agreements help spouses account for events that took place after their marriage. One spouse may have started a business and does not wish to include the other in his or her dealings. Or there may have been an extramarital affair, and the couple only decided to stay married on condition of signing a postnuptial. Maybe one of the spouses has become addicted to drugs, and an agreement helps limit that person’s spending.
Postnuptial agreements are also entered into when the couple anticipates a separation or divorce. Spouses may use them to divide assets and therefore avoid this step in the divorce process.
Any time significant life changes occur after the date of marriage, it’s a good idea to consider a postnuptial agreement.
If both spouses must agree to the changes, a prenup can be modified after marriage. This can be done by signing a document called a postnuptial agreement.
A postnuptial agreement is entered into after the couple is already married. Like a prenup, a postnup can address things like spousal support, property division, and debt allocation in the event of divorce or death.
Postnuptial agreements are relatively rare, but there are situations where they might make sense for a married couple. For example, let’s say that one spouse comes into a large inheritance after getting married. The couple may want to protect that inheritance by putting it into a trust, which would then be specified in the postnuptial agreement.
Or perhaps the couple has started a business together and they want to make sure that each spouse gets a particular share of the business if they get divorced. Again, this could be accomplished through a postnup.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can help spouses anticipate a worst-case scenario for their marriage. But if they’re not drafted and executed correctly, they will serve only to complicate matters. Special precautions must be taken with respect to postnuptial agreements since they are not automatically presumed to be valid.
The right attorney understands California’s requirements for marital agreements and ensures the necessary steps are taken to make them enforceable.At The Martin Family Law Group, we understand the legal process can be confusing and overwhelming. We want you to be armed with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions and collaborate with us on your matter. When you hire us, you can be confident that you are getting knowledgeable and compassionate advocates on your side. A knowledgeable attorney will review your finances and assets, along with your life situation, and advise as to whether an agreement is right for you. Both types of agreements can have significant effects on your rights, which is why you need a diligent attorney in your corner.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
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