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California Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreement Protection in California

No one enters into marriage with the intention of divorcing, but it does happen. InLos Angeles Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer the event of a divorce, you may be glad to have the protections of a prenuptial agreement (commonly referred to as a “prenup”). When executed correctly, these agreements control the way that certain issues are resolved in a divorce – typically the way that property is divided and any alimony that will be paid. Importantly, in order to be valid, certain conditions must exist at the time that a prenup is signed, so it extremely important for anyone who is considering entering into a prenuptial agreement in California to speak to an experienced lawyer as soon possible.

If you have questions about entering into an agreement – or the effects of an agreement that you have already signed – the Los Angeles family law attorneys at Furman & Zavatsky can help protect your rights. We offer free consultations and are happy to talk to you about a potential prenup into which you may enter or the enforceability (or non-enforceability) of an existing prenuptial agreement.

What Can a Premarital Agreement Do?

When considering a premarital agreement, it is important to have a clear understanding of your specific goals. A prenup is not the right tool for punishing infidelity or hiding assets from your spouse. In fact, these goals are prohibited by the California Family Code, which has adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. Here are some goals that can be addressed in a premarital agreement:

  • Rights and obligations in the property owned by either spouse
  • The rights to manage and control property (buy, sell, lease, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, consume, expend, assign, mortgage, dispose, etc.)
  • How property will be disposed of upon separation, divorce, or death of either spouse.
  • Preparation of documents (such as a will or trust) to carry out the provisions of the premarital agreement
  • Rights in life insurance policy equity and benefits
  • The law that will be applied to interpret the premarital agreement in the event of a dispute
  • Provisions for spousal support (commonly known as alimony).

By very clearly identifying your specific goals, an attorney can help you find the best legal tools for meeting these goals and protecting your legal and financial interests.

Is it Possible to Get Out of a Premarital Agreement?

Yes. The Family Code lists a series of specific circumstances in which a divorce court is prohibited from enforcing the provisions of a premarital agreement. These can include:

  • If either party did not enter the agreement voluntarily.
  • If one party did not receive a fair, reasonable, and full disclosure of the other party’s property or financial obligations prior to entering into the agreement.
  • If either party did not have an opportunity to obtain his or her own lawyer and get independent legal advice prior to signing.
  • If either party placed the other party under duress or used fraud or undue influence to convince the other party to sign the agreement.

Some of these circumstances are vague and must be interpreted by the court on a case by case basis. For example, parties will often disagree about whether they “voluntarily” entered into the agreement. California case law has explored many of these questions at length, and it can be used to bolster your argument for not enforcing the agreement or to defend the agreement against your spouse’s claim that it should not be enforced.

The Importance of Retaining an Attorney

If you are considering entering into a prenuptial agreement or already have one, there is a good chance that either you or your fiancée or spouse have assets that you wish to protect in the event that your marriage sours. If you are serious about protecting these assets, you should take every step you can to ensure that your prenuptial agreement is written in a way that accurately expresses your intentions and will be enforceable should the time ever come to enforce it.

Similarly, if you are in a situation in which you spouse has significantly more assets than you, it is critical that you understand your rights and do not sign anything that you do not fully understand.

Finally, if you are in the process of getting a divorce where a prenuptial agreement may control the resolution of certain issues, it is important for all parties involved to determine whether it is valid and enforceable.

For these reasons, anyone that may be affected by a prenuptial agreement should speak to an attorney about their legal rights and options.

Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Family Law Attorney Today

If you are contemplating a prenuptial agreement, or have questions about the enforceability of an existing agreement, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Furman & Zavatsky. We will help you meet your contractual goals and protect your financial interests. Call (818) 528-3471 to schedule your free consultation today.

Divorce for Same-Sex Marriages in California

Same-Sex Divorce in California

No couple likes to consider the possibility of divorce, but it is aLos Angeles Same Sex Divorce Attorney reality for same-sex and heterosexual couples alike. If you are facing the possibility of a same-sex divorce, it is important to contact an experienced attorney who has the legal knowledge to be able to protect your legal interests during this difficult time.

Isn’t All Divorce the Same?

Mostly, yes. Since the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Obergefell v. Hodges opinion on June 26, 2015, same-sex marriage must be recognized nationwide as a matter of federal constitutionality. Of course marriage provisions inevitably require divorce provisions, and – from a procedural standpoint – same-sex divorces are issued nationwide in the same manner as heterosexual divorces.

However: just because the procedure is the same doesn’t mean that courts aren’t faced with other complications. Here are just a few potential problems:

  • Community property: In a community property state like California, marriage creates a new legal entity known as the “marital community”. Upon divorce, property is classified as either community property or separate property of one spouse. After all community debts and assets have been identified, they are divided equitably between the parties. In order to do so, the court must determine when the community began and ended. Generally, a marital community begins when the couple is married. But what if a same-sex couple acquired property prior to the Obergefell ruling? Although community property would not be created during that period under current law, one spouse could argue that the couple would have been married had they not been legally prohibited from doing so. That spouse could also introduce evidence at trial that the couple intended to form a marital community, and their property should therefore be treated as such.
  • The history of same sex marriage in California: On June 16, 2008, the California Supreme Court deemed same-sex marriage to be constitutional. However, in November 2008, the voters of California passed Proposition 8, banning the institution. The Proposition was appealed through the federal court system and eventually struck down in June 2013. This confusing history also leaves open questions of when the marital community began during this perplexing timeline. Also complicating the issue: various states allowed various forms of same-sex marriage during that time. Many same-sex couples chose to marry outside of California in states which allowed it. Some couples even visited various states as they recognized same-sex marriage and had multiple marriage ceremonies.
  • Child custody: Perhaps most heartbreaking of all is the effect of divorce upon a child. During divorce, child custody is determined after an initial finding of legal parentage. For many same-sex couples, adoption documents have been made in one spouse’s name. Artificial reproductive technologies are similarly problematic: because the law simply has not caught up with the technology, legal parentage sometimes follows the biological parent, or even a donor … not the spouse who intended to act as parent to the child.

How an Los Angeles Divorce Attorney Can Help

Same sex divorce often raises a number of complicated issues that can have a significant impact on your overall quality of life. As a result, it is important for anyone going through a same-sex divorce to retain an attorney to make sure their legal rights are fully protected. Some of the specific ways that an attorney can help make the process of getting a divorce go as smoothly as possible include the following:

  • Explain Your Rights – Many people who are considering a divorce are not aware of their rights. When you meet with an attorney, he or she will fully explain your legal rights and options.
  • Provide Advice – The things that you say and do in the weeks and months leading up to your divorce could have an effect on its outcome. Your lawyer will let you know about what to do and what not to do during this period.
  • Communicate on Your Behalf – When you retain an attorney to represent you, he or she will communicate with your spouse or his or her attorney for you. In some cases, this can facilitate reaching a settlement, as many divorcing spouses are unable to communicate in a constructive way.
  • Represent You in Court – If your divorce ends up in court, you lawyer will represent you and present your arguments in way to which the judge hearing your case will be responsive.

Call a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer at Our Law Firm

Any divorce presents challenges, but the procedural requirements of a same-sex marriage can make the divorce process even more difficult. Let the experienced family law attorneys at Furman & Zavatsky help you navigate the technicalities of same-sex divorce so that you can focus on rebuilding your life. Call (818) 528-3471 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.