California is a community property state in which each spouse's income and acquisitions during marriage belong equally to both spouses. California also has some of the most liberal laws regarding spousal support (alimony). A premarital agreement (sometimes called a prenuptial agreement or prenup) is a way to opt-out of the requirements of California law and craft an agreement consistent with the way you and your prospective spouse wish to handle financial matters during marriage and in the event of a divorce. Such agreements not only protect property and income, but provide predictability and reliability in your relationship regarding the property, allow you to make independent financial plans, and can save large sums in legal and expert fees if things do not work out and your marriage ends in divorce.
The effort, time and money spent having a family law lawyer draft a premarital agreement is minimal compared to the effort, time and money you will need to litigate issues if you do not have an agreement in place and you find yourself facing the prospect of a protracted and expensive divorce battle.
A Roadmap for a Successful Marriage
Though the primary intent of any premarital agreement is the establishment of rights, duties, and obligations of prospective spouses in the event of a divorce. More than that, it helps both spouses develop a comprehensive understanding of their finances during the marriage. It allows a person and his or her potential spouse to discuss financially, and often time, emotional issues before they become an issue in the marriage, providing individual protection if things do not go as planned.
Disagreements about money are the number one reason couples get divorced. Consultation with a premarital agreement lawyer can lead to an open and honest conversation with your soon-to-be spouse about your financial situation and corresponding expectations. These are difficult subjects that many couples gloss over, thinking things will work themselves out along the way. When they don’t, divorce often results.
Communication Is a Great Eye-Opener on What to Expect Post-Divorce
Even if you choose not to sign an agreement, discussing these issues helps you both communicate your ground rules for money, the sharing of wealth, and contingency plans in the event of divorce; ensuring that you both know what to expect before you get married.
Prenuptial agreements are especially important:
If one spouse has substantially more financial assets or debt than the other.
If this is a second marriage for either party.
If there are children from previous relationships or marriages.
If you want to have an open and honest discussion about your financial situation and philosophy.
For many couples, a premarital agreement becomes a useful way to protect each party's interests, resolve conflict and even strengthen the relationship by eliminating unknowns and fanciful expectations which the other spouse cannot or will not fulfill.
But not all such agreements are enforceable. There are laws which restrict what a premarital agreement can contain, and also laws prescribing the manner in which it is entered into.
At Law Office of Channe G. Coles, by working closely with our clients, we draft only the highest-quality premarital agreements that are precisely tailored to meet our clients' needs and goals. Our premarital agreements will provide as much protection as the current state law will allow. Call our office today at (805) 617-4618 to schedule a private consultation.