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 in Sherman Oaks at Ghazi Law Group for a free consultation. You can call us at (818) 839-6644 or email us at contact@ghazilawgroup.com. 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.

Leave a Comment