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Do you need a California premarital agreement?

Many people think that premarital agreements are just for the rich and famous, but such agreements are becoming more popular in California and across the U.S. A survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys revealed that 63 percent of family law attorneys had seen an increase in couples drafting premarital agreements between 2010 and 2013. Premarital agreements can offer couples several benefits, and people should be aware of what is included in such agreements and how to ensure they are valid.

What is included in a premarital agreement?

A premarital agreement can cover a wide range of topics. A premarital agreement can specify separate and marital property, define who is responsible for which debts, specify how martial property will be distributed in the event of divorce, define the responsibilities of each spouse during the marriage and set conditions for alimony. Spouses may choose to waive alimony completely in a premarital agreement, unless the spouse is not represented by independent counsel at the time the agreement is drafted or the provision is unconscionable at the time of enforcement.

What cannot be included in a premarital agreement?

Premarital agreements may not include provisions regarding child custody or child support matters. Decisions about child custody need to be made based upon the best interests of the child, as determined by the court if the parents cannot agree at the time of divorce. Child support is the right of the child who receives it, so the parents have no right to make agreements about it. The California Child Support Guidelines govern child support awards.

What are the benefits of premarital agreements?

Premarital agreements can offer couples peace of mind in that they can be assured that they are the ones that are making decisions about their finances and property in the event of divorce or death of one of the spouses. In many cases, couples who have children from previous marriages use prenuptial agreements as estate planning tools to help ensure that their children receive certain assets instead of the new spouse. Premarital agreements are often helpful for those looking to protect small or family businesses, as well.

What makes a premarital agreement invalid?

If people are not careful, they may end up making mistakes in drafting premarital agreements that will make the agreements invalid, including:

  • Making oral agreements, not written agreements,
  • Executing the agreement when one spouse is under duress or coerced,
  • Failing to make full disclosure of assets and liabilities,
  • Not having legal representation for both spouses,
  • Making the agreement so lopsided that it would be unconscionable to enforce it.

It is best to seek the assistance of an attorney when considering a prenuptial agreement. An attorney can help ensure that the agreement is well-drafted and enforceable. If you have questions about premarital agreements, talk to a seasoned California family law attorney with a strong background in drafting those agreements.

At the Law Offices of Cherie T. Davis, we are dedicated to providing high-caliber legal services tailored to your family’s needs. Meet with one of our experienced attorneys to learn about your options and how we can help you achieve your goals.

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