Los Angeles Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer
People rarely enter into a marriage expecting to get divorced. Unfortunately, a significant number of marriages do end in divorce, and there are often many issues that need to be resolved before a divorce can be final, such as questions regarding child custody, the division of community property, spousal support, and child support.
While there are default rules for the way that these and other issues will be resolved, couples who are considering marriage can also enter into a prenuptial agreement, which is a type of contract that supersedes the default rules in many cases and will govern the way that a divorce will be finalized.
Without the help of a prenuptial agreement, a spouse could be left in a vulnerable situation. Our Los Angeles prenuptial agreement attorneys know how to outline a contract between parties to ensure their comfort.
We will assess your financial position honestly while ensuring that each segment of your marriage is covered in the prenuptial agreement.
California prenuptial agreements are primarily designed to address finances and what happens to shared property in the event of a divorce. It can't include personal preferences, such as someone's weight or other frivolous details. Below is some basic information about what a prenup can and cannot do.
What Are Common Issues in a Prenuptial Agreement?
While the specific details of a prenuptial agreement vary for each person, some of the common issues include the following:
- Property division and rights;
- Cash and bank accounts;
- Stocks and bonds;
- Retirement and pension funds;
- Business interest and ownership;
- Children from a previous relationship;
Property division can be one of the most hotly contested issues in divorce. In cases where significant or complex assets are on the line, a dispute regarding how marital estate will be divided can last for months or even years. You need to know what to include in a California prenuptial agreement.
Under California law, courts use a system often referred to as “community property” in the legal community to divide marital assets. In a community property state, assets that are obtained after a couple has gotten married are divided equally, with certain exceptions.
Importantly, however, a prenuptial agreement can supersede these default rules. These agreements can cover a couple's present and future property rights and ensure that certain assets do not later become subject to division due to growth or appreciation during the marriage.
On the other hand, a prenuptial agreement can be used to convert separate property to community property. A postnuptial agreement is created after marriage. You need to understand there are some provisions that cannot be included in a postnuptial agreement.
Issues Related to Children and Spousal Support
Prenuptial agreements are significantly less flexible when it comes to issues related to child support and custody. For example, while a couple could agree to a certain level of child support should the marriage end in divorce, the amount of child support could only provide more than the amount the child would have received by law, not less. Furthermore, a prenuptial agreement cannot limit a court's ability to address child custody and visitation issues.
Similarly, there are limitations on how these agreements can affect spousal support. A court will find waivers of unenforceable if the party against whom enforcement of the term is sought was unrepresented by independent counsel at the time the agreement was executed or the provision is unconscionable at the time that enforcement is sought.
Nature of California Premarital Agreements
Premarital agreements are contracts in which two parties agree about how their personal and future assets will be distributed in the event the marriage is dissolved. Because California is a community property state, all marital assets are automatically owned by the couple 50/50 regardless of traditional notions of ownership.
Accordingly, some couples may wish to keep certain assets purchased during their marriage as “separate property.” Especially because of California's unique status regarding property distribution, premarital agreements can be essential, even if you would not have considered entering one out-of-state.
For example, if you have been saving for a classic car that you plan to buy shortly after your marriage, you may wish to execute a premarital agreement specifying that the car will be your personal property.
This is especially important even for married couples moving to California from a state that follows the common law, which permits separate assets during the marriage. You could include a sunset clause in a California prenuptial agreement, which covers how the agreement ends because it will no longer be necessary after a certain amount of years of marriage.
If you have recently or are planning on moving to the Los Angeles area from out-of-state, be sure to contact a California family law attorney regarding your property rights immediately.
Premarital Agreements v. Traditional Contracts
Although prenuptial agreements function as binding contracts, because of the sensitive nature of marriage and marriage dissolution, California law provides certain exceptions to enforceability:
- An agreement is not enforceable if the party did not enter it voluntarily, i.e., some individuals may be threatened with cancellation of the wedding and feel forced to execute the agreement, or
- The party was not provided fair, reasonable, and full disclosure regarding the other's property, and
- The party did not waive, in writing, the right to disclosure, and
- The party did not know of the finances of the other party.
Due to the complexities that may arise during the execution and application of a prenuptial agreement, utilizing an attorney can help to minimize the chance a court might find an agreement unenforceable.
Contact Our Los Angeles Divorce Lawyers
Hiring an experienced Los Angeles family law attorney is wise if you are preparing to marry in a community property state. Even if you are already married, you can still choose to execute a marital contract to protect the rights you enjoy in another state.
At Furman & Zavatsky, we have the experience you need to assist you with your prenuptial or marital agreements. Contact us today for a free, no-risk consultation at 818-528-3471. Serving the greater Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley area.