A premarital agreement in California is a legally binding contract between two people who are contemplating marriage together. This type of agreement can be a good idea for soon-to-be spouses who want to protect separate property, want to avoid the default community property rules for the property they acquire after marriage, or have children from a previous relationship that they want to provide for. When drafted properly, a California premarital agreement can protect and secure your financial assets in case of divorce. However, it is important that you understand the rules surrounding these agreements and that you have your legal counsel when drafting or negotiating the terms of a marital agreement so that your interests are truly protected.
What Can Be Included in a California Premarital Agreement
According to the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, a premarital agreement can address a variety of property rights, including:
- The right to buy, sell, lease, or use property
- The rights and obligations of each spouse in any of the property they acquire
- How the property will be divided in case of separation, divorce, or death
- The content of a will, trust, and other estate planning document
- Rights to death benefits from a life insurance policy
- “Any other matter” not in violation of public policy or the law that would impose a criminal penalty
A premarital agreement cannot adversely affect a child’s right to child support. Provisions regarding spousal support are not enforceable if the party who would pay spousal support did not have a lawyer at the time of entering into the premarital agreement or if the provision regarding spousal support is unconscionable at the time that it is being sought to be enforced. Additionally, terms regarding the relationship and non-financial requirements are not enforceable.
Legal Requirements for Premarital Agreements in California
If a spouse wants to have the court enforce the premarital agreement, he or she must show that the agreement is valid. This requires showing that the marriage was carried out after signing the agreement and that the agreement:
- Is in writing
- Is signed by both parties
- Was signed voluntarily
- Includes lawful terms
- Was notarized
- Provided each party with at least seven days to seek legal counsel
Because of the important terms in these types of agreements and that the parties’ interests may be opposed, each party must seek independent legal counsel from an experienced California family lawyer who can advise them of their rights and explain the potential implications of proposed provisions. Additionally, a lawyer can help ensure that all of the necessary financial disclosures are made to avoid possible challenges in enforcing the agreement.
Contact Us to Learn More
If you would like to learn more about a premarital agreement or need an experienced California family law attorney to draft or review a premarital agreement, contact the Law Office of Peter Tuann at (925) 824-3118. Peter Tuann has more than 25 years of litigation experience and will fight to protect your rights.