Getting married is a big decision for most couple – especially if one party has property, a business, or other major separate assets. In some cases, it may be appropriate to come to some sort of agreement before marriage in order to protect the spouse’s assets. This is known as a prenuptial agreement. In other cases, it may be necessary to come to an agreement after marriage. This is known as a postnuptial agreement. This article will look at each agreement in more detail.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two individuals before getting married. The agreement specifies how assets will be divided in the event of divorce or death. Prenuptial agreements can vary depending on the specific facts of each case. However, commonly the content includes provisions for dividing property and spousal support if the couple decide to file for divorce.
California law has certain requirements that apply to prenuptial agreements. The legal requirements are spelled out in the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which has applied to California prenups since 1986. The UPAA generally states that written prenuptial agreements that are signed by both parties will automatically go into effect once the parties are married.
A prenuptial agreement can:
- Cover a couple’s present property rights
- Cover a couple’s future property rights
- Cover a couple’s other matters related to the marriage itself
A prenuptial agreement cannot:
- Negatively impact a child’s right to child support
- Take away a court’s power to control child custody
- Take away a court’s power to control visitation rights after marriage
What Is a Postnuptial Agreement?
A postnuptial agreement is an agreement negotiated and drafted after marriage. California law requires that married couples act owe the highest level of fiduciary duty to each other. As such, in financial dealings, each spouse must act toward the other as a trustee would toward a beneficiary.
In addition, similar to a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement must:
- Be voluntarily entered into
- Signed by both spouses
- Cannot contain anything criminal
- Cannot contain anything that affects public policy
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are both complex and must be carefully drafted by a skilled family law attorney in Central Valley who is familiar with California law. An experienced attorney can carefully draft the agreements with specific language to protect you from future loss.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Family Attorney
If you are going planning to prepare a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it is important that you first consult with knowledgeable attorney. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Central Valley family attorney who is experienced in drafting these types of agreements, please call Gurjit Srai (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.