Typically, engaged couples intend to marry and spend the rest of their lives together. In reality, however, a large number of marriages end in divorce. Many people living in the San Diego area have substantial assets and want to take the practical step of entering into a prenuptial agreement before they marry. Prenuptial agreements permit people to delineate their property rights in the event that they divorce, but many people do not understand the scope and limitations of such contracts. If you have questions about prenuptial agreements, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted San Diego family law attorney to learn about your options.
What Renders a Prenuptial Agreement Unenforceable in California?
In California, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) sets forth the requirements and rules regarding prenuptial agreements. Specifically, it states that such agreements are contracts that are not valid unless the parties that signed the agreement marry. Prenuptial agreement are not enforceable unless they are in writing, signed by both parties and a notary, and each party is given at least a week to obtain independent legal counsel before signing. Agreements that are not be signed voluntarily, without intimidation or coercion, are unenforceable as well.
What Can I Include in a Prenuptial Agreement?
Essentially, prenuptial agreements establish property rights. In other words, they can define what assets are the separate property of one spouse, what belongs to both parties, and how any property obtained during the marriage should be divided in the event of a divorce. Prenuptial agreements can also dictate whether either party will receive alimony should the marriage end. They cannot be used to define the right to child custody or child support, however.
Do the Courts Uphold Prenuptial Agreements?
Typically, the California courts will not enforce prenuptial agreements unless they comply with the requirements set forth under the UPAA. They will also not enforce any illegal terms in an agreement. Additionally, a Judge may set aside a prenuptial agreement he or she deems unfair. Grounds for finding an agreement unfair include fraud, duress, and incomplete disclosure of assets or liabilities prior to entering into the agreement. In some instances, a Judge may overturn an agreement on the grounds that it unfairly favors one spouse or leaves a party financially insecure.
Can a Party’s Actions Invalidate a Prenuptial Agreement?
If a court deems a prenuptial agreement enforceable, it is unlikely that the wrongful behavior of either spouse will serve as grounds for invalidating the agreement. In other words, adultery, domestic violence, and abandonment will not render an agreement invalid unless the parties choose to include provisions in their agreements that expressly state that specific behavior will invalidate the agreement.
Meet with a Trusted California Family Law Attorney
Prenuptial agreements are valuable tools that help people protect their assets. If you are interested in developing a prenuptial agreement or have been asked to sign an agreement by your future spouse, it is advisable to seek legal counsel. The trusted San Diego family law attorneys of Doppelt and Forney APLC can address any concerns you have regarding such agreements and assist you in taking the measures needed to protect your interests. Our office is located in San Diego, and we frequently help people with family law matters in cities throughout San Diego County. You can reach us through our online form or by calling 800-769-4748 to set up a confidential and free consultation.