Prenups – Do You Need One?

When getting married, most people don’t like to think about the possibility of divorce, but in some situations, considering what would happen to your property and money if an impending marriage were to end in divorce would be the wise thing to do. California is a “community property” state. That means that everything acquired by either spouse during marriage is presumed to be “community property.” This means that at the time of a divorce, everything acquired during marriage will likely be split equally, including property, businesses, retirement assets, bank accounts, and debts. In most cases, spouses also owe each other a duty of support following marriage, at least until the other spouse can become self-supporting. While these results may not be undesirable for some, for others, including those who are older and more established, have already been married, have significant assets and/or earn a lot of money, it might be prudent to consider a prenuptial or premarital agreement, or as it is commonly called a “prenup.”

As part of a prenup, parties can agree to keep all of the property and earnings he/she owned prior to marriage separate. They can also agree to keep any property and earnings they may acquire during marriage separate. Additionally, it is permissible to limit the payment of spousal support or to even cut off a party’s right to receive spousal support at all. However, contrary to popular belief, a prenuptial agreement will not be valid if it attempts to limit the payment of child support in any way. Simply put, parents cannot bargain their way out of their legal responsibility for supporting their minor child(ren).

Prenups can be extremely powerful and if drafted and executed properly, will most often be enforced by California courts. However, there are very specific procedures that need to be followed to ensure that a prenup will withstand a challenge in court. If you are considering a prenuptial agreement or have been presented with one by your soon to be spouse, it is imperative that you seek legal advice. Similarly, if you are facing a divorce and a prenuptial agreement was signed at the time of marriage, seeking legal advice as to whether the agreement is valid is extremely important. At Argyris Mah, LLP, we can provide you with sound legal advice no matter what issues you have surrounding a prenup. Call us to schedule a free telephone consultation at (408) 564-5674, and we would be happy to explain your rights and the possible ramifications with respect to your prenuptial agreement.

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