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Prenuptial Agreements 101

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

The term "prenuptial agreement" comes with many misconceptions. What is a prenuptial agreement? Is a "prenuptial agreement" different from a "premarital agreement?" Are prenuptial agreements only for the super wealthy? What is usually included in a prenuptial agreement and why do couples get them, anyway? Read on to find out.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement or prenup), is a contract entered into prior to marriage. In California, prenuptial agreements must meet various technical requirements to be valid and enforceable.

Why do couples get prenuptial agreements?

Without a prenuptial agreement, state law determines critical issues such as asset division and support/alimony upon divorce or death. Many couples choose to customize their circumstances rather than leave their futures in the hands of state law.

A prenuptial agreement is not necessarily romantic, but it does afford couples the opportunity to discuss and clarify many important financial issues prior to marriage. Financial transparency and honesty are critical to a successful marriage. Couples should discuss money management, financial health, and estate planning prior to marriage and there is no shame in creating a customized agreement to protect your and your family's future.

What is usually included in a prenuptial agreement?

The content of a prenuptial agreement is customizable and can vary widely. Common terms involve what will happen to assets (including financial accounts, real estate, stocks, business interests etc.) and debt in the event of divorce. Provisions regarding spousal support are also common.

Are prenuptial agreements only for the super wealthy?

No. Anyone can benefit from a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement helps clearly define financial roles and responsibilities during the marriage, which may actually deter marital conflict and divorce, regardless of your wealth level. Financial disagreements are stronger predictors of divorce relative to other common marital disagreements.

Should I hire an attorney to prepare or review a prenuptial agreement?

Generally speaking, yes. Prenuptial agreements can be highly technical. For example, California has special rules regarding the terms of such an agreement, the timing of such an agreement, and each spouse having independent counsel to show that the prenuptial agreement has been voluntarily executed. Whether you seek to protect separate assets such as an inheritance, a business, or real estate, you want to ensure that the prenuptial agreement has been done correctly and that you work with someone with whom you are comfortable.

TIP: If you are already married and are interested in entering into an agreement that is similar to a prenuptial agreement, you can create a “postnuptial agreement.” A postnuptial agreement is an agreement executed after a couple gets married to avoid state law determining critical issues such as asset division and support/alimony upon divorce or death.

For more Los Angeles prenuptial agreements resources, visit our website dedicated exclusively to premarital agreements.

If you are interested in a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement and are seeking legal assistance, call the Law Office of Emily E. Rubenstein at (310) 750-0827. We proudly serve Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City, the South Bay, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Encino and all of Los Angeles County.

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