By creating a prenuptial agreement, you can create a solid financial plan for what would happen to your assets and debts if your marriage were to end.
More people than ever are choosing to sign prenuptial agreements before they get married. Once thought to be an option only for the very wealthy, prenuptial agreements are now recognized as benefiting people of all income levels. Divorce is often a complicated process when it comes to dividing up two people’s lives. If there are children in the marriage, divorce can be even more challenging. By creating a prenuptial agreement, you can create a financial plan for what would happen should your marriage end.
AFFORDABLE CALIFORNIA PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
At the Law Offices of Daniel A. Hunt, we provide our clients with affordable prenuptial agreements. For a prenuptial agreement to be considered legally valid, both parties must understand the agreement had been advised by their own lawyer. We charge a straightforward, flat fee to draft a prenuptial agreement for our clients. Alternatively, we can also review and sign off on a prenuptial agreement that another attorney has drafted.
UNDERSTANDING PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
A prenuptial agreement is a contract both future spouses sign before they get married. The prenuptial agreement outlines how the debts and marital assets will be divided should the couple become divorced. Typically, prenuptial agreements list all assets and debts each partner is bringing into the marriage. When you create a prenuptial agreement, you and your future spouse are largely in control of the agreement, with some exceptions.
Child support and child custody issues are often the most divisive in the divorce process. You will not be able to include provisions regarding child support or child custody issues unless the provision is about providing more child support than what the court orders one spouse to pay. You will be able to create provisions of paying for your child’s college education, or your plans to provide for an adult child who has special needs.
PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS AND THE LAW
The law sets out some basic legal requirements for the prenuptial agreement to be valid:
- Both parties must be mentally competent enough to consent to the agreement.
- Both parties must consent to the agreement.
- When the prenuptial agreement is based on fraud or mistake, a court can rule the agreement invalid.
- When one spouse is not a native English speaker, the agreement must be translated into that individual’s native language.
- Both parties need to have their own legal representation. They can waive their right to counsel, but only if they understand the potential negative consequences of waiving counsel completely.
- Prenuptial agreements are subject to all of the basic rules of contract law. If the prenuptial agreement is not legally valid, it will not be enforceable.
- The prenuptial agreement cannot be “unconscionable,” meaning one party does not have unequal bargaining power. Also, the contract cannot unreasonably favor one party over the other party.
- California Family Code Section 1615(c) states that seven calendar days must pass between the time one party is first presented with the final agreement and advised to seek legal counsel, and the time the agreement is signed. This means you will want to plan ahead if you are engaged! Be sure to start the process of creating a prenuptial agreement well ahead of time. You want to avoid a situation where the wedding is less than 7 days away and it’s too late to create a prenuptial agreement.
COMMUNITY PROPERTY AND PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
In a community property state like California, when a couple does not have a prenuptial agreement, each spouse keeps the property they owned before the marriage after the divorce. This type of property is called separate property. Any property that the couple shared during the marriage will become divided equally between the spouses. A prenuptial agreement allows couples to “change the rules” and choose how they will divide their property among themselves should they become divorced.
For example, a couple can agree that one spouse will keep the entire house, and the other spouse will keep all the assets in the retirement account. Typically, a court would divide up those assets among the spouses. Prenuptial agreements allow you to treat community property as separate property or separate property as community property. You can also choose to waive or alter your right to an inheritance so long as your minor children are not negatively affected.
BENEFITS OF SIGNING A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT
One of the best aspects of signing a prenuptial agreement is the protection it affords your property. If you have already accumulated significant separate personal property, you may want to ensure that you keep that property after a divorce. You can place a provision in your prenuptial agreement that states clearly which property each person will get to keep. This can help you avoid costly and contentious divorce litigation in the future.
A prenuptial agreement can also allow you to designate which debts belong to which partner. If your partner currently has significant debts, this can prevent you from needing to take those on as a financial liability should you separate one day.
A prenuptial agreement can also save you and your spouse an extensive amount of stress. While it may seem difficult to discuss a possible future separation during an engagement, discussing these matters now will save you significant emotional turmoil down the road. Instead of worrying about what will happen to your financial situation after a divorce, you can rest easy knowing that you have a fair and complete plan for what will happen to your assets. A prenuptial agreement can help you avoid divorce litigation, making the process of ending a marriage much less stressful and expensive.
Finally, when two spouses have different financial backgrounds, a prenuptial agreement allows one spouse to keep their assets. For example, if one spouse is part of a successful family business, they can protect their interests in the family business through a prenuptial agreement.
CONTACT OUR EXPERIENCED PRENUPTIAL LAWYERS TODAY
At the Law Offices of Daniel A. Hunt, our lawyers have decades of experience creating and reviewing prenuptial agreements. We offer affordable flat rates for creating a prenuptial agreement. Contact our estate planning law firm today to schedule your initial consultation with our Sacramento, Folsom, or Roseville offices. We offer in-person, virtual, and telephone appointments for your convenience.