Premarital agreements – sometimes called prenuptial agreements – are supposed to help married couples avoid unnecessary conflict if they ever decide to divorce. Planning out what will happen with marital assets and responsibilities ahead of time should, in theory, save time and money. However, just bringing up the idea of premarital agreements can spark heated debates and arguments that lead to serious family law disputes.
In order to try to prevent these preemptive conflicts, California adopted its own set of prenuptial agreement laws and rules based on the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. This legal act paints a clear picture of what is and what is not allowed for a premarital agreement to be acceptable in court.
Main components of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act are:
- Full disclosure: Marital assets and separate property cannot be properly divided or protected if they are not fully understood. Each spouse needs to make full disclosure of their finances, property, debt, and any other piece of property that could be pertinent in the divorce process. Hidden assets will inevitably be discovered, and the spouse that tries to hide them may lose credibility for doing so.
- Financial advisors: Although not necessary, in some cases involving significant amounts of finances or assets, each spouse will be advised to consult a financial advisor while drafting their prenuptial agreement. This will act as an additional safeguard against unfair or unbalanced divisions, as well as reducing the risk of inadvertently hiding an asset.
- No duress: Any evidence of emotional or mental duress, or even physical intimidation, cannot be present when a premarital agreement is signed. People who are under stress to may not be able to make sound decisions, even if explanations and evidence are laid out clearly in front of them. If such duress exists, the signing must be postponed pending further review.
- Premarital: It may seem self-explanatory but a prenuptial agreement needs to occur before the marriage becomes official. This clause is meant to clearly differentiate premarital agreements from postnuptial ones.
Retain Separate Counsel to Protect Your Best Interests
California’s own draft of The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act requires that both spouses use separate counsel when creating a prenuptial in order for many of the common provisions to be considered enforceable. With a family attorney of your own guiding you through the process of drafting the agreement, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t be making any major oversights or mistakes. As with any legal process, having a friend in the court or conference room can be a boon.
You can contact Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC and our divorce attorneys in Southern California if you need to make a premarital agreement. We will bring more than 200 years of combined family law experience to your case, working diligently to always protect your best interests.