West Covina prenuptial agreement lawyers

Posted By Aaron Denton, On August 25, 2020

A marriage is a chance for two people to declare their love to the world. Heading to the altar together is also an opportunity for two people to tie their lives together in every way. One of the most important things that marriage does is to bring two people together in a legal partnership. Signing a marriage contract is signing a document that will bind them both together for as long as they stay married. It is imperative for all those contemplating marriage to understand the full extent of this decision. As a married couple, each member has certain legal rights and certain legal responsibilities. With this in mind, it helps each member of the couple to ensure their legal rights before they get married. Part of this process means examining all fiscal matters before they get married. Under California state law, people can agree to sign a prenuptial agreement.

Financial Matters

Financial matters are one of the cornerstones of any successful marriage. Both parties to the marriage need to know how they’re going to jointly manage all fiscal issues. The parties also need to be aware of how the other party responds given fiscal challenges such as the need for budgeting to pay bills. The use of a prenuptial agreement can help in many ways. A prenup lays bare each party’s finances. Given the average of marriage in the United States is over twenty-five for both men and women, each party to the marriage is likely to have already made certain financial decisions before they get married. Each party to the marriage is also already likely to have completed at least some of their education and thus incurred financial debt. Many people already have mortgages and credit cards well before they become an official couple. Making use of a prenuptial agreement means that each member of the wedding party has access to other party’s financial decisions.

This has many advantages. Each member of the wedding party gets to see exactly what the other person has done in the past. They have the chance to know about any student debt, business interests and savings. That allows each party to come to marriage knowing what kind of joint assets they can expect to have at their disposal. They also have the chance to have an honest, frank discussion of fiscal issues before they have to make decisions such as buying a house and deciding what percentage of their income to devote to retirement savings.

Facilitation of open and honest communication about essential matters like these is the foundation of any successful marriage. Each member of the couple has the chance to have in writing the other person’s financial picture. The prenup allows the couple to decide what will happen if the marriage isn’t working out. Neither spouse is left fearful the other party isn’t being truthful about their personal finances if divorce is required. That allows for the kind of peace of mind that can help ensure any marriage is a working partnership both parties can enjoy. Understanding how a prenuptial agreement works before getting married is vitally important.

How It Works

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement to divide all the couple’s finances a certain way if they get divorced. It’s important to bear in mind that a prenuptial agreement only pertains to the couple’s finances. It does not cover anything else. One party cannot specify that the other party agrees to lose a certain amount of weight or stays at a specific weight during the marriage. Child related issues must also be left out of the agreement. If one party has children from a previous marriage, the prenup cannot address the issues arising from their care. The only issue that is addressed in the prenup is fiscal. Each party has the chance to indicate to the other party how much they in assets as well as any outstanding debt. Each party also has the chance to ask that any assets they have earned before the marriage took place are theirs and theirs alone to retain if the marriage should not work out. All parties to the marriage should take the time to make sure the agreement is what they want done.

In order for the agreement to be valid in the state of California, it must meet certain criteria. These criteria include a written rather than a verbal contract as well as allowing the parties at least a week to have a lawyer examine the terms before they sign it. If any of these steps are compromised, the document is considered null and void. Working with a professional to work out all necessary terms can help. Lawyers can help both parties create a prenup that is acceptable and allows the couple to get married happily.

Introduction to Prenups in California

In the 1980’s prenuptial agreements, also referred to as antenuptial or premarital agreements, grew in popularity in the United States, but purportedly, the ancient Romans used them. 

A prenup is an agreement signed by two people who intend to get hitched.

The relevant statutes in the Golden State outline the rights and obligations of married people. Some of these can be renegotiated and re-engineered in a contract. Spouses can decide on some arrangements in advance. Terms can even be planned out for the eventuality of the unexpected death of a spouse. 

The agreed upon stipulations can diverge from the default ones under the present state legislation.  If this is something one or both people want to put in place, then a prenuptial agreement is the option that makes plenty of sense.

Does a Prenup Have to Be Signed by a Lawyer?

The quick answer is no.  A prenup does not have to be signed by a lawyer.  In fact, as with any contract, you can even draft your own prenuptial agreement without an attorney using a template.  The risk in this is that you may overlook crucial stipulations that make it impossible to later enforce your prenup. 

If you are on the receiving end of the prenup, then having legal counsel at the time you sign is wise, although your lawyer is not required to sign it themselves.  

How Can I Be Sure if My Prenup is Valid?

In order for a court to deem a  prenup valid, it must be in writing and signed by both spouses. The agreement can be modified or revoked after the date of marriage. Such changes also necessitate a written contract signed by both parties. Further, because of the unique and intimate link between married couples, the very existence of a prenup can invoke suspicions of undue influence.

The law says that the intimate, fiduciary obligation between married people “imposes a duty of the highest good faith and fair dealing on each spouse.” Family courts are authorized  to penalize any violation of fiduciary obligation. 

Be advised that there is no fiduciary relationship between fiances. A presumption of undue influence would not apply to such situations.

Enforcing Your Prenup 

For a court to be certain that a signature on a prenup was truly voluntary, the party who was presented with the prenup must either have consulted with their own legal counsel, or they must have, in writing, forfeited their right to an attorney.

Pursuant to the California code, the future spouse should have been allowed a minimum of seven days to speak with an attorney before signing a prenuptial agreement. For instance, if one of the parties had no lawyer representing her at signing, then he or she must be able to present a clear and correct explanation as to the contents of the contract to show that they understood what they signed.

Neither party is obligated to have legal representation.  That fact notwithstanding, courts tend to be less willing to enforce your prenup if it was signed by a party that didn’t have legal representation. In such scenarios, especially if the prenup is skewed against the party that didn’t have an attorney or if there are questions about coercion or duress, a court might invalidate the prenup entirely.

The Limited Scope of Prenups

Some key limits of the scope of your prenup:

  • A child’s legal right to receive support cannot be hindered by a prenup
  • A judge will only enforce spousal support clauses if the affected spouse had the chance to get legal representation at signing.
  • If the courts find that a waiver of spousal support is unconscionable, they have the right to decide not to enforce it and award some support. 
  • If a prenup obligates one or both of the spouses to commit crimes or otherwise breach laws or public policy, it is invalid. 
  • Lif-style clauses, like clauses dictating when and how often in-laws can visit, normally cannot be enforced by courts.

The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act

Please refer to The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act for all of the applicable statutes relating to prenups in California.