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Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements in the COVID-19 Era

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Earlier this year, after the Coronavirus outbreak happened, a survey of engaged couples found that over 60% of them had decided to postpone their wedding plans.[1] While the initial shock of postponement is a bit depressing, the additional time taken to plan one’s wedding provides the opportunity for a couple do decide whether to enter into a Prenuptial Agreement.

Many people are suffering through financial difficulties caused by job loss and new lifestyle changes due to lack of in-person schooling for both children and adults. We have found that these sudden changes have caused many couple’s marriages to break down and has led to the increase in divorces this year. Although entering into a Prenuptial Agreement doesn’t sound romantic, it can help you and your soon-to-be life partner have a long-lasting marriage that does not end in divorce.

California is a community property state, meaning that all property acquired after a marriage with community funds (such as a paycheck) belongs to both spouses equally. Any property or debt owned prior to the marriage or bought after the marriage with money from the sale of property owned prior to the marriage, is property that is owned by each spouse as their separate and sole property. A prenuptial agreement or a “prenup” allows couples to agree to keep any property and earnings acquired during the marriage as separate property and even allows couples to limit the amount spousal support a spouse is entitled to in the event of a divorce.

In the era of COVID-19, there are other items engaged couples should consider including in their prenups. First, the unemployment rate has skyrocketed this year and since financial responsibility is a common marital issue, it is in your best interest to discuss who would pay the bills in the event one of you loses your job. Second, given that most schools in California are still teaching remotely and many parents are choosing to stay home and help their children learn, if you currently have children or plan to have children in the immediate future, it would be helpful to discuss which one of you would be staying home with your child/children or if you would be using a daycare facility.

Additionally, the pandemic and the lockdowns that have come with it, have given many married couples the endless time and opportunity to reevaluate their relationships. For some couples, spending extra time together at home has made their marriage even stronger, but for others, being locked in the same house together and working from home as made them realize the faults in their relationships.

If you and your spouse are of the opinion that 2020 is the year that you both realized your marriage may have too many issues to fix, please understand that divorce is not the only option. Rather than filing for a divorce, consider entering into a Postnuptial Agreement to deal with some of your marital issues. The easiest way to describe a Postnuptial Agreement is as a contract between you and your spouse that you enter into after your marriage has begun, which resolves issues such as financial responsibility and asset ownership.

If your marriage survives then you have a framework for how to deal with certain issues, such as who pays the phone bill, or who washes the clothes. An agreement that forces you both to have certain responsibilities can help you both work on your marriage without the added stress and continued arguments about those issues. However, if you try to work on your marriage and it ends up falling apart, the Postnuptial agreement can at the very least help expedite the divorce process and help save you both legal fees.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements 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 pre- or postnuptial agreement will withstand a challenge in court. If you are considering one of these agreements or have been presented with one by your current or soon-to-be spouse, it is imperative that you seek legal advice. Unlike many law firms that charge exorbitant hourly fees to draft a pre- or postnuptial agreement, at Argyris Mah, LLP we draft them on a flat fee basis.

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 prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Call us to schedule a free telephone consultation at 408-214-6366.

  1. http://www.greenvillebusinessmag.com/2020/04/22/306986/survey-finds-63-percent-of-engaged-couples-postponing-weddings-due-to-the-coronavirus

Inspiration for this blog was taken from: https://www.offitkurman.com/blog/2020/05/15/postnuptial-agreements-post-covid-19/, https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=9832a19b-de55-4a5d-9071-cec2c5a6277e, and https://www.prenuppros.com/post/pandemic-prenups-amid-covid-19

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