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What Couples Should Know Before Getting Married

If you are going to be getting married soon, chances are the words “prenuptial agreement” have crossed your mind, but you don’t know much about it (don’t worry, most people don’t:) and you’ve been worried about bringing it up with your spouse. Most people worry that discussions around a prenuptial agreement will kill the romance prior to a wedding and might even turn-off the other spouse and create conflict.

These are fair concerns and this article will help you think about how to approach discussions around prenuptial agreements and how it can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your relationship. Contrary to popular belief, a prenuptial agreement is not just for a wealthy spouse to protect himself or herself from marriage to a spouse with a lower net worth. It actually benefits both spouses from all backgrounds. Let me explain.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement:

A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into prior to marriage or a civil union, that generally speaking keeps property from before marriage as separate property and avoids the creation of community property during marriage.  This avoids commingling of assets and debt and if executed properly, will be effective upon a parties dissolution.  An easy way to understand a prenuptial agreement is to think of it as,  ”what’s yours is yours, and what you earn or accumulate during marriage is yours too.”

Why a Prenuptial Agreement can be beneficial for your marriage:

When at attorney drafts a prenuptial agreement, he or she will ask both parties to list all their assets and debts in order to figure out their net worth and debt. This exercise in itself is highly beneficial, because it forces both parties to see how much the other is worth and what kind of debts they have prior to marriage. I often hear spouses during a divorce say that they had no idea the other spouse came into their marriage with so much debt or money and this is because people often times avoid that discussion.

No one likes to talk of money right? It appears cheap and is not a discussion that one wants to have while planning their dream wedding and honeymoon. However, the benefits of knowing exactly what each party is bringing into the marriage financially can lead to more trust, more understanding and present a clearer picture to both spouses about their respective financial positions in life.

Can a Pre-Nuptial Agreement Limit Child Support Payments?

It is important to know that prenuptial agreements can vary widely. However, there are a few terms that are not enforceable because they are against the law. Parties cannot limit or waive child support payments in a prenuptial agreement. In California, it is also generally unenforceable to have “at-fault” provisions in a prenuptial agreement that bar spousal support if there is infidelity in the marriage, etc.

California is a “no-fault” state, meaning that the State generally speaking does not care what the reasons for divorce are when parties file a dissolution. The law is just concerned with helping the parties start the next chapter of their lives without revisiting the reasons for a break-up.

Can a Pre-Nuptial Agreement Limit Spousal Support Payments?

Yes. It is very common to have prenuptial agreements that limit spousal support or bar the payment of spousal support. If executed properly and with the right disclosures, it can be effective.

Conclusion:

Still unsure about the nature of prenuptial agreements? You should call a reputable family law attorney to have a discussion on how a premarital agreement can benefit you and your spouse.