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Marital Agreements Lawyer in Los Angeles

Draft a Reliable Pre & Postnuptial Agreement in CA

A prenuptial agreement (also known as a “prenup”) is an agreement a couple can enter into before they get married which determines what will happen in the event of a divorce.

There is a misconception that prenuptial agreements are only available to those who are wealthy and who have substantial assets.

However, there are countless reasons why a couple may want to get a prenuptial agreement, such as:

  • Clarifying financial rights
  • Protecting an owned business
  • Protecting themselves from their spouse’s debts
  • Giving separate property to children from a prior marriage
  • Avoiding costly and extensive litigation during the divorce process

Do You Need a Lawyer for a Prenup in California?

While not legally required by the State of California, a prenuptial agreement drafted by a knowledgeable lawyer will help avoid disagreements as it clearly defines exactly what will happen should a couple end their marriage. Even if you don’t think you’ll divorce today, this may change in the future.

A prenuptial agreement is not very romantic, which is why many parties fear or avoid discussing the topic. But, a prenuptial agreement does give couples the opportunity to clarify many important issues prior to marriage including money management, responsibility for debts, estate planning, and property rights.

The Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement

There are a number of benefits to having a prenuptial agreement in place:

  • If there are children in the home, this agreement can reduce or eliminate conflict between the couple over who gets what after the divorce. This will help ease the burden of your divorce on your children and family.
  • Having a prenuptial agreement will save you money. There will be less litigation involved and less money spent fighting over assets.
  • Couples can define what is marital or community property, and protect separate property.
  • A prenuptial agreement will protect your estate plan.

These agreements also allow couples to establish ground rules for deciding special agreements and future matters.

What Cannot Be Included in a Prenuptial Agreement

There are two key issues that cannot be included in your prenuptial agreement:

These two areas will be determined by the authority of the court.

What Happens if You Do Not Have a Prenuptial Agreement

Not having a prenuptial agreement in place means that state laws will determine who acquires what in the event of a divorce or death.

Marriage is considered to be a contract shared between a marrying couple. With that contract comes a number of automatic property rights for each spouse.

Some of the most common include:

  • Sharing ownership of property acquired during the marriage
  • Paying debts which the other spouse has incurred throughout the marriage
  • Sharing in the management and the control of communal or marital property (in some instances the couple may be forced to sell the property or give it away)

What Are the Requirements for a Valid Marital Agreement in California?

Most courts will examine the following areas when judging a marriage agreement

  • Writing - The postnup must usually be in writing in order for it to be valid. Oral agreements are hardly ever awarded in court, and the document must be signed by both parties, as well as notarized.
  • Voluntary - Both parties must voluntarily agree to the written contract. It must be with consent and not obtained by verbal or physical threats.
  • Full Disclosure - There must be full disclosure between each party, with no hidden assets and full transparency.
  • Fair Agreement - The document must be fair; it cannot be one-sided .

Alternatively, the following points describe what would make a marriage agreement invalid:

  • Signed under duress – If either party was pressured in any way to sign the agreement.
  • It wasn’t read – Every legal document needs to be read prior to signing it, but if the document was given with the assurance that all was well within it and you did not read it, or you were not given an ample timeframe to go through the document it may not be enforceable.
  • Incorrect information – If the details written within the agreement are either false or incompletely entered, the agreement becomes invalid. For a marital agreement to be valid, full disclosure by both parties must be given.
  • It was formed as a verbal agreement – All prenuptial agreements must be in writing.
  • Unlawful provisions – Any agreement that relates to illegal activities will have those activities stricken from the agreement, or potentially the entire document being deemed invalid.

Can I Do My Own Prenuptial Agreement in California?

Prenuptial agreements are more common today than they ever have been, but the courts still closely scrutinize these agreements. If a prenuptial agreement is deemed “unfair” or does not meet state requirements, it will not be considered in the event of a divorce.

Couples can draft their own prenuptial agreements prior to visiting their attorney. There are a number of worksheets, templates, and other resources readily available online and at the library. In order to make sure that it is clear, understandable, and legally sound in the state of California, however, it is recommended to have it reviewed by a Los Angeles prenuptial agreement attorney.

If a Spouse Dies

A prenuptial agreement is also useful in the event that a spouse passes away. In the agreement, you can set specific conditions about different assets and different children. For instance, if you would like to have some assets or property stay within your biological family, or if you would like specific children to receive specific property, this can be included in your prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial Agreements after Marriage

If you are already married and are interested in entering into a prenuptial agreement with your spouse, you can make an agreement which is known as a “postnuptial agreement.” These agreements allow you to outline the same plans as you would with a prenuptial agreement.

It is also important to note that a prenuptial agreement can be changed after your wedding day.

For instance, if your financial situation has changed, you can then alter or modify any terms in the prenuptial agreement as long as:

  • Both parties agree to the terms; and
  • The changes are made in writing and are signed.

A couple may also want to consider updating the terms of the agreement should you move to a different state and/or you become parents.

Why Retain a Los Angeles Prenuptial Agreement Attorney at Lavinsky Law?

At Lavinsky Law, our goal is to ensure that you have total control over your future financial situation. Rather than attempt to navigate the complex set of laws which come with property and asset division in the event of a divorce, we give our clients peace of mind in ensuring that they have a legally sound prenuptial agreement in place which protects both them and their children.

Brighter Days Are Ahead. To discuss your prenuptial agreement with an experienced Los Angeles marital agreement lawyer, we welcome you to contact Lavinsky Law for a free consultation today at (310) 929-6411.

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