While the idea of a prenuptial agreement may seem unromantic, it may in fact be beneficial to your marriage because it settles important financial concerns from the very start. This clarity allows each spouse to understand what to expect in the event that the marriage ends. At the Law Offices of Haleh Rashidi, we can help you create an agreement that meets your particular needs and is representative of your wishes.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract into which future spouses enter prior to the beginning of a marriage. The document sets forth the terms for a potential dissolution of the marriage. While the issues determined in each prenuptial agreement will vary based on the couple, some issues that are typically addressed include:
- Duration of spousal support;
- Real estate, such as residential homes;
- Stocks and retirement funds;
- Business ownership and interests;
- Children from a prior marriage;
- Each spouse's individual debts;
- Elderly parents in the care of one or both spouses; and
- Each spouse's entitlement to collect death benefits from the other's insurance policy.
The agreement also may cover other matters on which the spouses agree, although it may not negatively affect a child's right to child support or take away the court's power to make custody and visitation determinations at the time of or after a divorce.
In California, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) governs prenuptial agreements. Under this law, for a prenuptial agreement to go into effect, the couple must actually get married. General contract law applies to these types of agreements. Thus, they are only valid if the parties were of sound mind and legal age when the contract was formed. Furthermore, the parties must have consented voluntarily to the terms of the prenuptial agreement. Under the seven-day rule in California, consent is not voluntary unless the party against whom the agreement is being enforced had at least seven calendar days between when the agreement was presented to them and when the agreement was signed.
In addition to these requirements, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing, fully reveal the assets and debts of each party, be fair at the time that it was drafted, have notarized signatures, and not conflict with public policy.
Each spouse must enlist independent counsel or waive this right in writing for a prenuptial agreement to be enforced. This requirement is not met if a conflict of interest involving the attorneys exists. A family law attorney who understands the nuances of how to create a legally valid document should represent each spouse throughout this process to minimize the risks of disputes or unpredictable results in the future.