A prenuptial agreement sometimes referred to as a premarital agreement, is an agreement between two parties to be married to one another as to the parties’ rights and obligations in any of the property that either of the parties may acquire either jointly or separately before or during the marriage. Specifically, the prenuptial agreements allow the future spouses to agree on what will happen to that property in the event of separation or divorce, or in the case of death of one of the spouses. This property can include real estate, personal property such as vehicles and jewelry, a spouse’s incomes and earnings, retirement benefits and pension plans, and even future inheritances. A San Diego Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer can offer prenuptial agreement services through the process of drafting, negotiating and executing prenuptial agreements. We also help clients through the process of understanding, enforcing, or contesting a prenuptial agreement already in place.
Proper Uses of Prenuptial Agreements in California
California law allows for parties entering into marriage to validly plan for a wide range of potential issues in the making of a prenuptial agreement, and thus a properly-executed prenuptial agreement can provide stability and security for those entering into marriage, knowing that their respective interests will be taken care of in the event of a dissolution of the marriage or death of one of the spouses.
The issues that can properly be settled via a prenuptial agreement include the determination of who will have rights in the property that the spouses either separately or jointly acquire, the rights of each party to manage and control their separate and marital property (i.e. whether one party can take out a mortgage on property without the other’s consent), the rights of each party to spousal support (or alimony as it sometimes referred) following a dissolution of the marriage, and any other matters, including the personal rights and obligations of the parties, not in violation of criminal law or public policy.
In order for a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable when a situation arises in which the property of spouses is divided among parties, the prenuptial agreement must comply with a number of requirements under California State Law. Some of these requirements are rather straightforward, such as the fact that the prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties to the marriage. Others are more complicated, such as requirements that one or more of the parties to a prenuptial agreement be represented by independent counsel in certain circumstances, such as when a spouse’s rights to spousal support following the dissolution of a marriage are affected by the prenuptial agreement.
When will California Courts Refuse to Enforce Prenuptial Agreements?
As noted, California courts will refuse to enforce the terms of a prenuptial agreement in a number of scenarios. A common reason for a court’s rejection of a prenuptial agreement is that it doesn’t comply with the formal requirements for such an agreement under California, or that it contains provisions which are invalid under California law, e.g. a provision that violates California public policy. California law also requires that, for certain provisions of a prenuptial agreement, one or more of the parties to the agreement must have been represented by independent counsel in making the agreement, meaning that both spouses cannot have been represented by the same attorney in negotiating and drafting the prenuptial agreement. A California court may also refuse to enforce a provision of a prenuptial agreement where it determines that the provision is unconscionable, and the courts have latitude in determining what is and what is not unconscionable.
Seek a San Diego Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer
When entering into a prenuptial agreement, you will want the security of knowing that the terms of the agreement are fair and that they will be honored by the court in the event of the end of a marriage; working with an experienced family law attorney can provide that security. If you have already entered into a prenuptial agreement, it is worth it to talk to a knowledgeable attorney who can explain what your rights are under the agreement and whether the agreement is likely to be enforced. The San Diego Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer at the Law Offices of Andy Cook possess the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to provide you with the representation you need in this critical area. For advice and representation in negotiating, enforcing, or contesting a California prenuptial agreement, contact the Law Offices of Andy Cook in San Diego.