How a California Prenuptial Agreement Can Protect Your Romance – as Well as Your Property

You’re about to get married, and you can’t wait to start your life together. You’re planning your honeymoon with stars in your eyes and love on your mind. Then your intended says they want a prenuptial agreement. Does this mean it’s over before it began? How can they even imagine that your romance could ever end? Don’t despair. Before you get upset, have a cup of coffee (or maybe something stronger), clear your head and consider these commonsense reasons to sign a California prenuptial agreement, also referred to as a premarital agreement.

  • Define Your Expectations for a More Harmonious Marriage

Thoroughly discussing your finances with your spouse-to-be before you get married can go a long way toward promoting household serenity after you take your vows.  It is better to have some frank discussions about the state and management of your finances before your marriage than to be surprised later. Working through a prenuptial agreement provides a structure for addressing these issues, and a good California family law attorney can act as a helpful guide in this process.

  • Reduce the Hostility, Stress, Time and Expense of Extended Litigation

Of course, you want your marriage to last forever. But should it end, keep in mind that divorce litigation can be expensive, protracted, emotional and ugly. If you have negotiated property division and other important matters in advance, it will speed the divorce and make it much more likely you can continue on a civil basis, which is particularly important if you have children together. It also gives you much more control than leaving it to a judge to decide your future. If you think a prenuptial agreement is unromantic, it does not hold a candle to extended, bitter litigation.

  • Protect the Property Rights of Children from Another Marriage

These days many people who wed are not marrying for the first time, and they often have children from a previous relationship. A California prenuptial agreement can help protect and enforce the property rights of those children, particularly if your new partner is not adopting the child. For example, you can designate that specific assets go to your children, anything from your summer home to your music collection.

  • Customize Property Division

California law governs how property is divided in case of divorce, but a couple can change that with a prenuptial agreement. They may also use the premarital agreement to define property ownership.

  • In California, some property of a married couple is deemed marital property which can be divided upon divorce and some property is individual property which may not be touched by their spouse. Property you bring into the marriage is generally considered to be individual property. However, after years of marriage, lines may blur, and disagreements may arise about whether or not the couple purchased items during the marriage or before it. A couple may use a California prenuptial agreement to define property that is important to them.
  • Since California is a community property state, normally, marital property including earnings made during the marriage are divided equally upon divorce. However, with a prenup, the couple can opt to change that percentage.
  • A couple can designate which specific property goes to which spouse in case of divorce.
  • Usually, property you inherit even during the marriage belongs to you individually. You can alter change that with a premarital agreement
  • Protect Your Business

If you own a business, under California’s community property laws, your spouse can claim part of your business appreciation or income if you divorce. If you own a business and are getting married, you really need a California prenuptial agreement to designate your business as separate property if you want to guarantee your business’s post-divorce survival. Otherwise, you may have to liquidate it if you divorce.

  • Be Sure Your Intended Really Wants You

If you are much wealthier than your intended or if you earn significantly more, you may have a nagging doubt whether your partner is enamored with your or with your bank account. A premarital agreement can put those doubts to rest.

  • Protect Yourself from Your Spouse’s Debts

In California, debts incurred during the marriage as well as assets are considered community property. You can designate that any debts a party accumulates during the marriage are their own but be aware that if a creditor has a legal right to go after a spouse, this will not impact that right.

You may also want to clarify how much debt each party brought into the marriage, the nature of the debt and who is responsible for paying it.

  • Designate Fair Spousal Support

Many people address the issue of spousal support in their prenuptial agreement, particularly if one of the spouses intends to give up their career to take care of their children and their home. It’s often not that easy to resuscitate a career once you leave, and the assurance of a California premarital agreement can give the stay-at-home spouse some peace of mind.

  • Determine Who Gets Custody of Your Pets

You may think of your pet as a child, but the state of California views them as property when it comes to divorce. There are no long hearings about what is in the best interest of the pet. It is not unheard of for a spouse to demand they get the pet just to get back at their partner. Where it’s possible, it is better to decide in advance of your marriage who will get custody of pets.

 Call Us for A Free Consultation to Discuss a California Prenuptial Agreement

If you are planning to marry and would like to sign a prenuptial agreement with your intended or if you just want more information about premarital agreements, call the experienced California family law attorneys at Ghazi Law Group for a free consultation. You can call us at (818) 839-6644 or email us at We serve family law clients in Sherman Oaks, Encino, Woodland Hills, Studio City and other areas of Los Angeles County.

See California Premarital and Postmarital Agreements to learn more.

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