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When you get married, you’re most likely just starting out and don’t have assets.
So, what’s even the point of getting prenuptial agreements in California?
Prenuptial agreements in California can get used to determine things like:
- who gets to keep the dog
- how finances will get handled during the marriage
- will one spouse stay home to raise the kids
- will that affect alimony in the event of separation
- how will student loans get paid off and by who
These are just a couple of the items a prenup in California can cover.
So, let’s dig into it.
Table of Contents
- Prenuptial Agreements In California
- What Is A Prenuptial Agreement?
- Who Should Get A Prenuptial Agreement?
- How To Get A Prenup In California
- How Much Does A Prenup Cost?
- What Issues Can A Prenuptial Agreement Cover?
- Can A Prenup Determine Child Custody And Child Support?
- Can A Prenup Determine Alimony?
- How To Make Sure My Prenup Is Enforceable?
- Can The Courts Reject My Prenup During Divorce?
- Can You Change The Prenup Later?
Prenuptial Agreements In California
Prenuptial agreements in California get used to determine lots of things about marriages.
This can include things like:
- who gets to keep the pets during separation
- who is responsible for debts incurred by each spouse (i.e., a $40,000 boat you’d have to pay half of in a divorce)
- keeping credit cards separate or joint and who owes those debts
- keeping the inherited property as separate property
- how to split up marital property
- how joint bank accounts will get managed during the marriage
- who handles what expenses during the marriage (i.e., will all expenses get split 50/50?)
- how much will each spouse contribute to retirement and savings
- religion and education for the children
- property distribution in the event of death
- whether one spouse will go back to school
- how to handle a business during and after a marriage
This list is not all-inclusive.
But it gives you an idea of what you can accomplish with a prenuptial agreement in California.
Prenups are not only used in the event of a divorce.
They can help couples figure out lots of things during their marriage.
Prenups help ensure your marriage is successful long term.
Property Distribution Upon Death
Prenups in California allow you to control distribution of your property upon death.
Either spouse can use a California prenup to keep family from previous marriages from getting inheritance.
Let’s say you were previously married with children.
If you were to pass away, you probably want some of your inheritance to go to them.
Without a prenup, the state decides who gets what.
And that means your spouse may get everything, leaving your children with nothing.
Prenuptial agreements in California can clarify how property should get distributed.
Financial instability is a leading cause of divorce in California.
California prenuptial agreements can add stability to your finances during marriage and divorce.
Your prenup will lay out your current debts and assets.
If your spouse has a ton of debt, you may want to keep that as separate property.
Without a prenuptial agreement in California, this would become marital property.
That means, in a separation, you’d be responsible for paying off half your spouse’s debts.
A prenup will also allow you and your significant other to come up with a debt payoff plan prior to your marriage.
As you can see, California prenuptial agreements add lots of financial stability.
What Is A Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement that two people enter into before their marriage.
A prenup allows couples to agree on how to divide property, debts, and other financial issues for separation.
Without a prenuptial agreement in California, the courts will make financial decisions for you in divorce.
Getting a prenup allows you and your spouse to come up with a fair agreement that works for both of you.
From our experience with divorces, when the courts decide, you will not be happy with the decision.
It’s better to come to a fair agreement on your own that works for both of you.
Who Should Get A Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are not for everyone.
But there are several reasons you should consider getting a prenuptial agreement in California.
You should get a prenup if either of you:
- owns assets (i.e., retirement accounts or real estate)
- has debts (i.e., student loans or medical bills)
- has children from other relationships
- has interests in a business
- are going to receive any inheritance
- wants to be a stay at home parent
- has pets
Again, this is not an exhaustive list of why you should get prenuptial agreements in California.
If you have a special case you’re curious about, fill out the form on this page for a free consultation.
How To Get A Prenup In California
You have two options when it comes to how to get a prenup in California.
- hire a California prenup lawyer to create the prenup for you
- download a do it yourself prenup agreement
Your prenup should be written in a way that’s clear, understandable, and legally sound.
If the prenup written incorrectly, it will not hold up in court during a divorce.
This means that the judge can choose to ignore your prenuptial agreement.
Which means your finances will be divided per the law.
(Also known as how the judge wants to split things up for you.)
Your marital property, separate property, and debts will get split according to family law.
And if one of you dies, the other spouse:
- will be responsible to creditors
- may not get to keep all your property
If you want to have a prenup attorney create a prenup for you, fill out the form on this page.
We will make sure:
- your spouse gets your property in the event of death
- separate property is not co-mingled and lost
- neither of you gets raked over the coals financially
- neither of you gets unfair treatment in the event of separation
But how much does a prenup cost?
How Much Does A Prenup Cost?
How much does a prenup cost depends on your situation.
If your finances are straightforward, then a prenup costs between $1,200 and $2,400.
The more you and your significant other have to negotiate, the more your prenup will cost.
If you have complex financial issues, prenups can cost up to $10,000+.
These are things like businesses, inherited trusts, LLC, partnerships, etc.
For the average person, you can expect a prenup to cost between $1,200 and $2,400.
If you want to save money on the cost of a prenup, check out our Do-It-Yourself Prenups.
What Issues Can A Prenuptial Agreement Cover?
A prenuptial agreement in California can cover a lot of issues.
A prenup defines the rights and obligations during marriage and divorce.
These issues include:
- property ownership
- debt repayment
A prenup can include some of the following issues:
- each spouse’s right to separate and marital property
- each spouse’s right to buy, sell, transfer, spend, or manage property and assets during the marriage
- each spouse’s entitlement to spousal support
- each spouse’s right to death benefits from the other party’s life insurance policy
- protect one spouse from the debts of the other
- the making of a will in support of the agreement
- the state law governing the agreement
- property division upon separation, death, or divorce
- any other issue the couple agrees on
Related: How Long Does A Divorce Take
Can A Prenup Determine Child Custody And Child Support?
Child custody and child support can not get determined by a prenuptial agreement in California.
The judge is going to determine what is in the child’s best interest.
Meaning they will be making the decision on how much custody and child support gets awarded.
Parents cannot take this decision-making power away from the judge with a prenuptial agreement.
Even if you did include it in your prenuptial agreement in California, the courts would ignore it.
While you can’t limit child support, you can increase it in the prenup.
Let’s say you both agree on how to divide college expenses.
You can include this in your prenup in California.
Can A Prenup Determine Alimony?
You can include alimony in your prenuptial agreement in California.
In California, you can:
- limit the amount of alimony
- limit the timeframe alimony gets paid
- waive the rights to alimony
Prenups limiting alimony are a grey area in family law.
The judge has the right to ignore your prenup limiting alimony.
The judge can still award alimony to your spouse.
Even if there is a prenuptial agreement that limits the alimony.
They will overrule your alimony you agreed upon in the prenup if it seems unfair or retaliatory.
If a parent quits work to stay home with the children, the judge may award them alimony.
If a spouse is marrying into wealth, the judge may not overrule the prenup.
It all depends on what the judge deems as fair.
And in California, both individuals have to hire a separate prenup lawyer for alimony clauses.
Per the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, both spouses have to have separate lawyers review the prenup for alimony.
If they do not, then alimony clauses in a prenup won’t be enforceable.
How To Make Sure My Prenup Is Enforceable?
To make prenuptial agreements in California enforceable, here’s what to do.
- Your prenuptial agreement should be in writing.
- You should have two witnesses for your prenup.
- You need to file the prenup at your Superior Court Clerk’s office.
There are some other guidelines for signing a prenuptial agreement in California.
Each spouse should be:
- old enough to get married (17 years old)
- mentally competent (not insane or mentally disabled)
- single (not married to another person)
- unrelated to each other
- truthful about their assets and debts
- speaking to an attorney before signing a prenup
According to the Uniform Premarital Act, California prenuptial agreements are only enforceable if each spouse:
- received complete information about all assets and debts
- had 7 days between receiving and reviewing the prenup
- had the opportunity to have an attorney review the prenuptial agreement
- was represented by a separate prenup lawyer
Let’s say each spouse does not hire a separate prenup lawyer.
In this case, anything affecting alimony in the prenup will not be enforceable.
A prenup in California will automatically become effective once the couple marries.
A California prenup covers the couple’s present and future property rights.
But a prenup will not:
- affect a child’s right to child support
- limit the court’s control over child custody and visitation
Related: Reasons a Judge Will Change Custody
Can The Courts Reject My Prenup During Divorce?
When you’re separating, the judge decides whether your prenuptial agreement is enforceable.
A judge will throw out the prenuptial agreement in California if one spouse:
- forced the other to sign via fraud or duress
- did not disclose material facts
- misrepresented information
- made the agreement so unfair the courts can’t enforce it
Another reason would be if your circumstances have changed, making the prenup unfair.
For example, let’s say the wife started her own business, which is now making millions per year.
At the same time, the husband agreed to stay home with the children and to help support the wife’s business.
They had agreed to no alimony when they both had average jobs and lives.
But now, it would be unfair to the husband.
In a scenario like this, the judge would not enforce the prenuptial agreement for alimony.
Fraud occurs when a spouse conceals assets when making the prenup in California.
Let’s say the husband inherited a trust that he earns $10,000 per month from.
If he concealed this from his spouse when he signed the prenup, this is fraud.
Duress is when one spouse forces the other to sign the prenuptial agreement.
This ‘force’ can be a physical threat or a serious psychological threat.
Non-disclosure or misrepresentation is when one spouse hides assets or debts.
For example, if a spouse has 4 undergraduate degrees and $175,000 in debt.
But they only tell you about one degree and say they are debt-free.
They would be misrepresenting their debts.
(The degrees won’t constitute misrepresentation.)
Can You Change The Prenup Later?
You can change your prenuptial agreement in California anytime.
But both parties must agree to change the prenuptial agreement.
All your prenup lawyer has to do is create a prenup amendment for you.
They will provide witnesses for you.
And they will make sure that any changes properly void old clauses you want to be replaced.
Related: Grounds for Full Custody of Child
Get Your Prenuptial Agreements In California
If you want the best prenup attorneys to represent you, fill out the form below.
We have the experience needed to ensure that your rights are protected.
We know what successful marriages NEED to figure out.
We know what destroys marriages.
We know what issues cost divorcing spouses tens of thousands of dollars.
We know how to help your marriage last longer.
And have a higher chance of success.
After you fill out the form below, we will set up your free consultation.