As you plan an upcoming wedding and look forward to celebrating a new marriage, there are many things to think about and check-off your to-do list. Thinking about a possible divorce is the last thing you want to consider, but unfortunately in today’s world statistics show that a first marriage has a 50 percent chance of ending in divorce. For additional marriages the statistics are even greater, about 72 percent of subsequent marriages will fail. It’s not fun to think about your marriage ending, but it’s always important to think ahead and do whatever you can now to protect yourself in the future if your marriage does end.
A pre-nuptial agreement, also known as a premarital agreement or a prenup, is a legally binding agreement regarding the property rights of a married couple. This document becomes effective when a couple gets married and is a good way to provide clarity to both the husband and wife about what will happen with their property and finances if they split in the future. Contrary to popular belief, a prenuptial agreement is not only used by the wealthy to ensure that one spouse is denied access to a significant amount of money, these types of agreements are used on a regular basis, and usually in subsequent marriages to protect finances, property, children and more. For example, let’s say that John Smith owns a family business, a possible prenuptial agreement can state that in case of a divorce John’s business remains with him, but that his wife is entitled to a portion of the business income during their marriage under California’s community property laws. Additionally, a prenuptial agreement can establish certain aspects of spousal support that gives the lesser-earning spouse a certain amount of alimony if the marriage lasts a certain length of time.
Since a prenuptial agreement is between two spouses who may have different goals in mind, it’s a good idea that each party is represented by their own attorney before signing the agreement. For a prenup to be valid it must be in writing and signed by both parties. Other requirements for pre-nuptial agreements in Placer County include:
- The spouse receiving the agreement for signature must have received complete financial information about the other party prior to signing it.
- The spouse receiving the agreement must be given at least seven days to review the agreement before signing it, or ample time to have it reviewed by an attorney.
- The spouse receiving the agreement can be represented by a separate attorney, unless they have received detailed information about the terms and obligations and signed an affidavit denying the right to an attorney upon receipt.
If either party wants to revoke the prenuptial agreement or make any changes, they need to be made in writing and signed by both parties. In order for a prenup to be enforced, both spouses must have entered into it voluntarily, have full knowledge and understanding of the terms of the agreement, and the conditions need to be fair.
There are certain things that cannot be included in pre-nuptial agreements in Placer County – including anything that is illegal or against public policy. For instance, you can’t negotiate the rights of current or future children, but you can agree on how to divide responsibility for future school expenses or how to support and care for adult children. A court would not enforce a prenup that discusses how to raise children, including religious affiliation and other options. Additionally, public policy would prohibit an agreement that discusses the relationship duties of marriage. A marriage means both spouses are expected to provide mutual respect, fidelity and support, so an agreement that outlines compensation for domestic services or companionship would not be valid because these “services” are already duties of marriage.
If you are planning on getting married in California, a prenuptial agreement is a smart option to protect your assets and your best interest. It may be the last thing you want to think about when planning your blissful wedding, but it is the smart thing to do. Similar to setting up a life insurance policy or car insurance these types of agreements are put in place for protection “just in case.” To learn more about pre-nuptial agreements in Placer County, to discuss your options for drafting a prenup or to hire an attorney to assist you with a possible pre-nuptial agreement contact our team at Gale, Angelo, Johnson & Pruett P.C. You can contact us at (916) 290-7778 to schedule an initial consultation, or simply fill out the form below and a team member will connect with you soon.