Premarital / Prenuptial / Marital Agreements

Premarital/Prenuptial Agreements

A premarital agreement, also known as a “prenuptial agreement” is an agreement between two people who are planning to marry, that is intended to be effective once the marriage has taken place.  People most often enter into premarital agreements regarding characterization of property, both community property and separate property.  This can range from agreements indicating that there will be no community property between the parties, to agreements which merely identify a specific asset as one spouse’s separate property. 

Premarital agreements can also set forth the parties’ respective obligations of support to each other.  A party’s rights to receive spousal support from the other can be covered in a premarital agreement, or the parties can agree to waive the right to receive spousal support from the other.  Provisions of a premarital agreement effecting spousal support may be evaluated by the Court at the time of enforcement to determine whether it is fair to enforce that portion of the premarital agreement.  For that reason, it is extremely important to consult with a Family Law Attorney regarding your rights and obligations under a premarital agreement before signing one.

Premarital Agreements are governed under California Law by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which can be complex and has specific requirements which must be followed for a Premarital Agreement to be enforceable.  If you are planning to enter into a Premarital Agreement, or if you have been presented with a Premarital Agreement by your potential spouse, it is important to consult with an experienced Family Law Attorney immediately to discuss your rights and options.

Marital Agreements

A Marital Agreement is an agreement between two spouses, already married, which typically relates to the characterization of property owned by one spouse, or both.  It allows spouses to agree to an alternate characterization of property, other than what would be provided by law.  For example, spouses can enter into a marital agreement to change property from one party’s separate property to community property, or vice versa.  A Marital Agreement can also be used to change a community property debt to the separate property debt of one spouse, and a separate property debt of one spouse to a community property debt.

Due to the fiduciary duty imposed upon spouses under California Law, a Marital Agreement must be carefully drafted and executed so as to not be later found to be invalid when one party later seeks to enforce the agreement.  If you are seeking to have your spouse sign a Marital Agreement, or if your spouse has presented you with a Marital Agreement to sign, it is important to immediately consult with an experienced Family Law attorney so you understand your rights and obligations with respect to the Marital Agreement being contemplated. 

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