Prenuptial Agreements in California

Prenuptial, Postnuptial, and Cohabitation Agreements

Spouses may choose to avoid the application of community property principles by entering into a postnuptial agreement (an agreement entered between spouses after they are married) or by a prenuptial agreement (also known as a prenup or premarital agreement). Specific formalities and requirements are in place for both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Postnuptial agreements require heightened levels of financial disclosures, since the parties as spouses owe each other specific fiduciary duties of disclosure. Prenuptials are encouraged to include disclosures for increasing likelihood of enforceability later.

Certain provisions in prenuptials might not be enforced unless both parties are represented by independent counsel or if the agreement is rushed and signed without sufficient time for consideration and reflection. Cohabitation agreements are enforceable as contracts between unmarried individuals.

Protect Separate Property

A prenuptial agreement can help protect the property that each spouse brings into the marriage, as well as any property acquired by one spouse during the marriage that is kept separate from the other spouse’s property.

Clarify Financial Expectations

A prenup can help couples discuss and clarify their financial expectations and responsibilities, which can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts in the future.

Avoid Costly Litigation

In the event of a divorce, a prenup can streamline the process by resolving many of the issues upfront, such as property division and spousal support, potentially avoiding a costly and lengthy court battle.

Enforcing or Challenging Premarital Agreements

What Happens When Things Don’t Work Out?

The last thing that prospective spouses want to discuss is the possibility that their marriage will end, and the plan and contingencies related to that kind of worst-case scenario. However, if a couple cannot have meaningful conversations regarding money, property, and finances before marriage, the probability of success for their marriage may be slim.

At Gabbard Family Law, you can learn about the financial benefits of entering into a prenuptial agreement. There are many important legal issues that a prenup can address beyond the rights and responsibilities of the parties regarding their wealth and financial interests in the event their marriage ends through death or divorce.

Protect Business Interests

A prenuptial agreement can help protect the interests of business owners by ensuring that their business remains intact in the event of a divorce.

Safeguarding Inheritance

A premarital agreement can ensure that any inheritance received by one spouse remains separate property and is not subject to division in a divorce.

Guarding Against Debts

A prenup can also address debt obligations, which can be especially important if one spouse has significant debt prior to the marriage. It can also help protect against future debt obligations that may be incurred during the marriage.

Transmutation Agreements

How can you change the characterization of property?

Spouses may change the character of property during marriage by transmutation. A transmutation changes the character from separate to community, community to separate, part community/party separate to all community, etc. Transmutations must be in compliance with strict requirements, including an express declaration of the intent to change the character of the property made in writing and signed by the party whose interest in the property is adversely affected, pursuant to Family Code §852.

Changing the characterization of property during marriage requires technical details for the transmutation to be effective. This law office can guide you in the process. 

To schedule a consultation with a Los Angeles spousal support attorney, please call (323) 822-0500 or contact the office online today.

Types of Agreements between Spouses in California

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that prospective newlyweds enter into before getting married. The terms of a prenuptial agreement are effective and binding after the parties are legally married. Typically, prenuptial agreements govern financial issues between the parties but do not cover any issues regarding child custody.

  • The main benefits of a prenup include the protection of assets, the avoidance of an ugly and drawn-out divorce, and clarity for future decisions.
  • For a prenuptial agreement to be valid it must be in writing, signed by both parties voluntarily, and each person must have had equal access to an attorney. In all prenup contracts, you and your soon-to-be spouse must disclose all assets and debts that will be brought into the marriage.
  • In general, prenuptial agreements last as long as the marriage itself. There are only a few times where sunset clauses can modify the document. These are instances where talking with this law office is in your best interests.

A postnuptial agreement from our lawyers is similar to a prenuptial agreement, but it is drafted after a couple marries or enters into a registered domestic partnership. Just like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can help couples plan financially, and in the event of a separation, a postnuptial agreement can help make the dissolution go more smoothly.

  • Postnup validity also relies on a few factors being true. These include that it must be a written document, entered into voluntarily, and the terms are fair for both sides.
  • The provisions of the agreement are generally the same as prenups, with child custody preferences not permitted.
  • Not all postnups are meant for divorce. A common reason couples draft postnuptial agreements is to gain closure and legal clarity on each spouse’s wishes. A postnup can also protect you from a spouse that has shown reckless behavior through their actions or decisions. For example, if he or she was charged with multiple DUI’s that put stressors on both the relationship and finances.
  • There are two common scenarios in which a postnuptial agreement may not be for you. The first is when there is a large gap in income between the two spouses. If you were to divorce, the postnup may not give you what you need to thrive following the proceedings. The second scenario is if one spouse was not given enough time to fully examine the document. A judge would still enforce the agreement even if you were to explain that you did not understand what you were signing.

Transmutation agreements are used to change the characterization of a specific property (for example, from community property to separate property, or from separate property to community property). A valid and enforceable transmutation agreement must meet very specific requirements under California law, which is where the knowledgeable assistance of an experienced Los Angeles prenup lawyer can guide you through the process.

You can count on Gabbard Family Law to help you with the following matters:

  • Determining whether a marital agreement is appropriate in your case
  • Forming a valid prenuptial or postnuptial contract
  • Reviewing the provisions of a prenup or postnup
  • Drafting an effective prenup or postnup
  • Questions of enforcement

Consult an Experienced Prenuptial Agreement Attorney in Los Angeles

If you have questions or concerns regarding your legal rights and responsibilities with regard to a prenuptial, postnuptial, or transmutation agreement in California, you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney at Gabbard Family Law. This office provides a Los Angeles prenuptial agreement lawyer dedicated to promoting your legal interests while protecting your financial interests and rights. Gabbard Family Law provides personalized legal solutions that account for the unique aspects of your marriage and individualized goals for the future.