Experienced Stockton Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys for Help with Prenups and Post-Nuptial Agreements
As divorce becomes increasingly common, prenuptial agreements have gained popularity as a means of protecting each spouse against the financial and legal ramifications typically associated with a high-conflict divorce. Often called prenups, prenuptial agreements are not always straightforward, however, and require foresight and emotional maturity from both parties. Due to how much is at stake, it is encouraged that you allow your prenup to be crafted by a caring and experienced Stockton prenuptial agreement attorney.
What is a Prenup, Exactly?
Prenuptial agreements are precautionary marital contracts signed and executed before a marriage. Essentially, prenuptial agreements are intended to describe the conditions of a marriage, as well as what each party would ostensibly receive in the event of divorce.
Prenups are seen as a rational solution to the difficulties associated with a marriage breakdown, as it allows the parties to contract around what is “fair” during a less emotionally-fraught time. If two spouses wait until their divorce to determine how best to split property assets, then they are much more likely to engage in a hostile, emotionally-charged dispute, in some cases even drawing out the conflict against their best interests.
What Circumstances Indicate That a Couple Should Consider a Prenuptial Agreement?
While you hope you will never have to use it, a prenuptial agreement can form the basis of a backup plan in the event that your marriage ends in divorce. But how do you know whether you need one? Our Stockton prenuptial agreement attorneys examine a few situations in which you might want to consider a prenuptial agreement below.
California is a Community Property State
Marital property in community property states, including California, is divided 50-50 upon divorce by default. This is in contrast to states that practice equitable distribution, in which marital property is distributed in a “fair and equitable manner” among the parties, which may or may not be 50-50. Prenuptial agreements are a common way to circumvent the 50-50 default rule.
You Have Significant Assets
Prenuptial agreements are often regarded as tools wealthy individuals use to ensure that their spouses are not marrying for money, but they can do more than that. If you have significant assets prior to your marriage, a prenuptial agreement may reduce your future alimony obligations. A prenuptial agreement can also protect any wealth that you earn during your marriage.
You Have Children from a Previous Marriage
If you have children from a previous marriage, you may want to consider a prenup to preserve assets that you intend to leave for them. Many individuals use prenuptial agreements to ensure that certain assets remain separate property so that they may be placed into a living trust or bequeathed by will for the benefit of children from previous marriages.
You Own a Business or Have a Stake in a Business
Individuals who own businesses pre-marriage can use prenuptial agreements to establish that they will have full control over the business and to limit how much of an interest their spouse has in it. If you have a stake in a business that you share with others, a prenuptial agreement can also protect your partners’ interests in the business. And even if your spouse takes an interest in your business, a prenuptial agreement can quantify exactly how much he or she will receive in the event of a divorce, thereby avoiding major forensic accounting issues.
You Want to Keep Your Personal Life Personal
In some cases, there is no specific reason an individual wants a prenuptial agreement beyond a desire to retain some degree of their pre-marriage independence.
Prenuptial Agreements in California Are Generally Enforced, But Not Always
In California, prenuptial agreements — as with other pre-existing contractual agreements — are favored by the courts, and are therefore generally enforced absent certain extenuating circumstances. Depending on how problematic these circumstances are, the prenuptial agreement may be invalidated and rendered unenforceable by law.
What factors will render a prenuptial agreement unenforceable in California? Consider the following non-exhaustive list:
- If the agreement was entered into under duress, pursuant to fraudulent misrepresentation, mistake, or otherwise without the express consent of either party;
- If the agreement was entered into without independent legal counsel;
- If enforcing the agreement would constitute a violation of public policy (i.e., if the prenuptial agreement requires that a child be raised in a particular religious background);
- If the agreement attempts to outline chilled custody and visitation rights.
Generally speaking, the content of a California prenuptial agreement may outline various marriage-related rights, as well as rights pertaining to the division and management of property assets. For example, your Stockton prenuptial agreement attorneys will include provisions concerning the payment of alimony, and concerning the distribution of community property.
It’s worth noting that the original terms of a prenuptial agreement need not be adhered to if both parties recognize that those terms are no longer necessary as-written. California law entitles the two spouses to modify (or even terminate) the prenuptial agreement, but modification requires the consent of both parties — further, care must be taken to ensure that each party has reviewed all the provisions (both current and prospective) and is fully-informed as to what the modification entails.
Postnuptial Agreements are Also Drafted by Our Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys
Postnuptial agreements follow the same rules as prenuptial agreements, except that they are entered into “after” the couple has gotten married, as opposed to “before” marriage. Though postnuptial agreements may seem a bit unorthodox to the general public, they are quite useful in situations where the couple is rational and amicable about protecting one another, particularly in light of new information.
For example, suppose that one spouse develops a substance abuse issue during marriage. This was not addressed by a prenuptial agreement, and the couple fears that this could impact their lifetime earning capacity, ability to manage assets effectively, and more. A postnuptial agreement might ensure that — if the substance abuse issue continues and a divorce is sought — that the spouse who does not have the substance abuse issue will receive the lion’s share of the couple’s total assets so that those assets are not wasted.
Contact MCJG for a Free Consultation
If you’d like to draft and execute a prenuptial agreement, or if you’re concerned about the enforcement of a pre-existing prenup, then it’s important that you speak to one of our experienced Stockton prenuptial agreement attorneys.
We encourage you to contact our firm at your earliest convenience. Call our firm at 209-477-8171 or complete an online intake form to schedule a free initial consultation today. Though our office is located in Stockton, we regularly handle divorce matters for clients located throughout the state of California.