Prenuptial agreements are generally looked upon unfavorably because of their relationship to divorce, but they don’t have to be a black mark on your marriage. On the contrary, premarital agreements are a surefire way for responsible soon-to-be spouses to protect their rights and assets. Steve Smith and the team of family law attorneys at (619) Divorce have more than a decade of experience helping clients in San Diego and the surrounding area draft, review and enforce prenuptial agreements, and we will listen to your questions and concerns and do our best to ensure that your individual legal needs are met. We understand the importance of writing and implementing a contract that establishes adequate protections for each spouse’s property, and we will do everything in our power to negotiate a fair and reasonable prenup that both spouses can agree to.
Our lawyers at (619) Divorce highly recommend prenuptial agreements for soon-to-be-spouses who wish to protect their rights and property in San Diego, especially those with significant premarital wealth and assets, and we can make creating, reviewing and negotiating your prenuptial agreement as smooth and painless an experience as possible. The main goal of prenuptial agreements is not to cause discord or contention, but rather to help soon-to-be-married couples work together to plan for the unexpected, and our attorneys are experienced in preparing enforceable prenuptial agreements in San Diego and the surrounding area. Premarital agreements are legally binding contracts and should only be created, negotiated and reviewed by a reputable divorce attorney with extensive experience in this area. Consult our law firm today for a free evaluation of your San Diego prenuptial agreement.
Prenuptial Agreements in San Diego
A prenuptial agreement, also known as a premarital agreement or a “prenup,” is a contract spouses enter into prior to a marriage. The purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to make provisions for any issues that could have an impact on a marriage, including how the couple’s marital property will be divided and the amount of support a spouse will receive if the marriage ends in divorce. There are many potential issues spouses can address in a prenuptial agreement, including the division of the couple’s property, financial assets and retirement funds, among other financial items, with one notable exception being child custody and child support issues. Under California law, a prenuptial agreement cannot negatively impact a child’s right to financial support, nor does the contract override the court’s right to establish a fair arrangement for child custody after a divorce.
California Family Code § 1615
Drafting a prenuptial agreement is not the most romantic thing a couple can do before getting married, and this uncertainty about inserting a binding legal contract into their romance is the main reason many couples put prenups off until the last minute. However, California Family Code § 1615 (c)(2) clearly states that there cannot be “less than seven calendar days between the time that party was first presented with the agreement and advised to seek independent legal counsel and the time the agreement was signed,” and if the couple puts off the prenuptial agreement for too long, it may actually become a postnuptial agreement. A San Diego prenuptial agreement is a legal contract and as such, it requires valid consent from both parties in order for the contract to be enforceable, meaning the other spouse cannot have been mentally unfit or under duress when signing the agreement, nor can the spouse’s consent be the result of mistake or fraud. Regarding the legal enforcement of a San Diego prenuptial agreement, California Family Code § 1615 also states that: (a) A premarital agreement is not enforceable if the party against whom enforcement is sought proves either of the following:
(1) That party did not execute the agreement voluntarily.
(2) The agreement was unconscionable when it was executed and, before execution of the agreement, all of the following applied to that party:
(A) That party was not provided a fair, reasonable, and full disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
(B) That party did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided.
(C) That party did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA)
In the state of California, written prenuptial agreements are governed by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which sets forth the legal requirements of a valid and binding prenup. Whatever the terms of your prenuptial agreement, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney to represent you in the drafting and negotiation of the prenup. Not only will a good San Diego prenuptial agreement lawyer protect your legal rights and assets, he or she will also ensure that all of the legal procedures required for a valid prenup are properly executed, to avoid any disputes later on.
Protecting Your Assets with a Prenuptial Agreement
Prenuptial agreements are most commonly used in marriages in San Diego where one or both spouses have significant assets and wealth, but the legal contract can be used in any situation where spouses want to protect their rights and assets should they end up getting a divorce. This is especially true for individuals who get married for a second, third or subsequent time, where they enter into the marriage with their own children or a great deal of premarital wealth, assets, business interests or property, particularly if these previous marriages resulted in spousal support obligations. In a world where many people are financially-motivated, a prenuptial agreement can provide the freedom and peace of mind you need to move forward with your marriage knowing that your financial well-being is not at risk. This is especially true in high net worth divorces where one or both spouses enter into a marriage with significant wealth and high-value assets.
Community Property Laws in San Diego
When it comes to divorce, California follows community property law, which states that all assets acquired or income earned by the couple during the marriage, as well as any property purchased with marital funds, belongs to both spouses equally (with some exceptions) and will therefore be divided equitably in divorce. That means, without a prenuptial agreement saying otherwise, the court is obligated to ensure an equal division of the couple’s community assets and debts during a divorce. California’s community property laws often lead to disputes between divorcing couples who believe their marital property should be divided in some other way. Separate property, on the other hand, is property one spouse or the other owned prior to the marriage and is usually not subject to division in a divorce. However, there are some instances where separate and community property may become combined during a marriage, and a prenuptial agreement can set forth the terms for property division in such cases. For instance, if a couple gets married and moves into a house that one of the spouses purchased prior to the marriage, the prenuptial agreement may stipulate that the house will remain in the purchasing spouse’s possession in the event of a divorce. Absent a prenuptial agreement, the money paid into the mortgage by the other spouse may be considered a community property asset, per California’s community property law, which means that spouse could potentially claim an interest in the house if the couple ends up getting divorced.
Who Benefits from Prenuptial Agreements?
Prenuptial agreements tend to carry a negative stigma, since the legal contract will only go into effect if the couple gets a divorce and few couples enter into a marriage expecting to get divorced. However, there are some important benefits to signing a formal prenuptial agreement in San Diego, regarding the division of property and the payment of spousal support, among other family law matters that tend to become contentious issues during a divorce. A San Diego prenuptial agreement may protect the property and assets of spouses who:
- Already own a home
- Have children from another relationship
- Have been previously married
- Want to keep their finances as separate property
- Frequently move or plan to move to a non-community property state
- Have a professional career
- Are established business owners
- Have high-value assets or property
By negotiating a prenuptial agreement at the start of your marriage, you can establish certain terms and conditions regarding your property and assets from the very beginning, and reduce the chances of conflicts arising later that can drag out a divorce and make it more expensive and distressing than it has to be.
How a San Diego Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer Can Help
Most people enter into a marriage in San Diego expecting to live a long and happy life together, but the unfortunate truth is that people change, and circumstances change, and being prepared for these changes with an iron-clad prenuptial agreement is the best way to minimize future conflict and avoid significant financial loss. Nearly 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce and without a prenuptial agreement in place, you could end up turning over half of your estate to your spouse, even if he or she earned little or no income and contributed very little to the estate during the marriage. Once your San Diego prenup is signed, it is legally binding, and it is imperative that each spouse has a separate attorney to represent his or her best interests in negotiating the prenuptial agreement.
Our family law attorneys at (619) Divorce know that you worked hard for your wealth and we believe in being proactive in the legal protection of our clients and their assets. Because San Diego prenuptial agreements require a seven-day waiting period between the time the contract is agreed upon by the couple and the time it is signed, we recommend that spouses planning to include a prenuptial agreement in their marriage seek legal counsel well in advance of their wedding, to allow for adequate time to plan, draft and negotiate the contract in a fair and legal manner. The primary goal of our divorce lawyers is to protect your best interests should a divorce occur, and we will use every resource at our disposal to ensure that you have a full and complete representation of your soon-to-be spouse’s financial situation before you sign a prenuptial agreement.
Consult Our San Diego Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers
Not only do prenuptial agreements allow you and your spouse to protect certain assets and property in the event of a divorce, they also encourage soon-to-be-married couples to discuss financial issues and other important items prior to marriage, which allows the marriage to begin on an open and honest note. If you are getting married in San Diego and you want to create a prenuptial agreement, or if you are getting a divorce and the terms of your prenuptial agreement are in question, do not hesitate to protect your legal rights. Our knowledgeable San Diego divorce lawyer at (619) Divorce have extensive experience drafting and defending prenuptial agreements in San Diego and the surrounding area, and we can help you and your soon-to-be-spouse create a mutually agreeable prenup that ensures a fair and reasonable spousal support and marital property division agreement should the marriage end in divorce.