Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers in Los Angeles, Safeguarding Your Financial Future
It’s a special event when two people decide to join their hands in marriage. Of course, these lovely events don’t always lead to fairy tales. While divorce rates have been going down in America — due largely to a reduction in marriages — a considerable number of unions still end in separation. This is why many people decide that they would benefit from signing a premarital agreement before tying the knot. The important thing to remember is that this is a binding legal document, so it must meet certain requirements under California law to be valid. With so much at stake, seeking the help of a prenuptial agreement lawyer in Los Angeles is an essential step.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we understand that reaching such an agreement prior to marriage can feel awkward, confusing, and downright overwhelming. This is why our family law services include everything you need to create a valid prenuptial agreement. Our firm focuses on taking a cooperative approach to the law, so we can help you understand your rights, responsibilities, and the overall outcome of any marital agreement you may eventually sign. We can also help you craft such agreements so they’re more likely to stand up in court. Call or contact us today for a free consultation and discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney in Los Angeles, CA.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement Under California Law?
On the surface, prenuptial agreements — also known as “prenups” — are the same no matter where they’re signed. A prenuptial agreement is a written contract that dictates the property division of a married couple in the case of a divorce. While people typically envision these contracts as a way for the ultra-rich to safeguard their assets, prenups are increasingly being signed by those of far more modest means. This is often due to the desire to avoid financial disputes in the future, provide protection from debts, or simply to get financial clarity moving forward. Many individuals also enter such agreements when they have children from a previous marriage. This provides the chance to clarify where they want their assets to go.
Current rules regarding prenuptial agreements come from the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA). The law was enacted in California in 1986, but there have been amendments made since its initial passage. The statute dictates what can and cannot be included in a prenup — along with requirements necessary for the agreement to remain valid. If you’re ready to separate and are concerned over whether your premarital contract is enforceable, speaking with a divorce attorney can give you a better understanding. Of course, the best path to ensuring enforeability is to work with a Los Angeles prenuptial agreement lawyer from the start.
What Are the Requirements for California Prenuptial Agreements?
While several amendments were made to the UPAA in 2002 — which are discussed in the next section on Agreement Invalidation — there have been some basic requirements in place since the law was first passed. These requirements are similar throughout much of the nation so that the contracts are enforceable even outside of California. These conditions also typically hold true if you’re seeking a postnuptial agreement — a similar marital contract signed after getting married — to dictate how asset and property division will be handled. The following criteria must be met for a marital agreement to be valid:
The contract must be written; oral agreements are not valid
Terms within the agreement cannot violate California law
Both parties to the agreement must sign it
Signing must be voluntary
A notary must sign the document as well
All parties must have time to review the document
If premarital agreements meet these requirements — and don’t violate any of the rules set forward by the 2002 amendments — there’s a good chance the document will stand up in court. Of course, the entire point of such a contract is to avoid lengthy court battles. Even so, you should speak with a divorce attorney if you’re contemplating separation to ensure everything is in order. They can also help you file the appropriate documentation to expedite the entire process.
The best way to ensure you meet all requirements of premarital agreements, though, is to speak with a family law attorney prior to even signing such a document. This simple proactive step can save time, money, and hassle later down the road.
What Can Invalidate a California Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement in California can cover a wide array of topics. The decision of what happens to anything ranging from real estate to future earnings can be negotiated. There are certain inclusions in a marital agreement, however, which will not be enforceable under the law. When the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act was passed, the biggest unenforceable factors involved child support, custody, and visitation. That’s because decisions involving children must always be based on the best interests of those children — not on how two individuals decide their potential separation should go in the future.
A prenuptial agreement can also become invalid if it doesn’t follow California law involving contracts. Technically, a prenup is a contract. This means the agreement cannot be made due to inappropriate influence, fraud, or mistake. Those signing the contract must also be mentally fit to make valid consent. Law involving prenuptial agreements expanded even further, however, when amendments were added to the UPAA in 2002. These amendments stated that these contracts were only enforceable against an individual in the following circumstances:
The spouse had a minimum of one week to review the agreement prior to signing it. This would allow them enough time to have their legal representation review it.
A thorough and complete accounting of the other spouse’s assets was made available prior to signing any prenup documents
The individual had an established attorney-client relationship separate from their spouse’s. This aspect can be avoided if,
the spouse receives written information detailing what effect the agreement will have along with a list of the contract terms. This document must inform the individual of all rights and obligations they’d lose by signing.
the spouse signs a separate document stating that they’ve received the above information. This document must also waive the individual’s right to an attorney and identify the individual who provided the above information.
These requirements make it very clear just how complex prenuptial agreements can be. One simple mistake can nullify specific aspects or perhaps an entire contract. In fact, even meeting all of the requirements listed doesn’t necessarily guarantee every aspect of the document will be enforceable. For instance, provisions involving future spousal support are unenforceable if the spouse affected by the agreement did not have independent legal representation. This level of complexity is why it’s so important to have a family law attorney to help guide you through this process.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we understand that getting premarital agreements done right is absolutely essential. Far too many people who attempt such agreements on their own are hit with unpleasant surprises years after the fact. By deciding what happens to community property, separate property, and other assets far in advance, you may be able to avoid some of the derision that all too frequently leads to financial disagreements and the need for divorce attorneys.
And since you can get a free consultation at Kim Mediation and Law Center, there’s no reason to not seek advice prior to drafting and signing a prenuptial agreement.
What Does a Prenuptial Agreement Include?
From controlling child custody to dictating non-financial issues, there are a variety of factors that cannot go into premarital contracts. Prenuptial agreement attorneys can better explain these issues to you, but the law is also very clear on what can be included in such agreements. Your marital contract can include arrangements involving each of the following criteria:
Rights and responsibilities to property from either party to the agreement
Rights regarding what can be done with these properties (e.g., the right to buy, use, sell, exchange, etc.)
What happens when a marriage ends via any means (e.g., separation, divorce, death, etc.)
The creation of a trust, will, or other arrangement to handle contract provisions
Who owns the benefit from life insurance policies
The law that governs the creation of the agreement
Other matters that don’t violate legal statutes or public policy
This makes it apparent that premarital agreements can be wide-ranging and complex. These contracts can have a significant effect on your life after marriage, so it’s important to take the creation of them very seriously and properly review all terms. A prenuptial agreement lawyer in Los Angeles can help you with this process. Don’t make a mistake that could result in the state deciding what happens to your community property and other assets. Speak with a family law firm today.
Do I Need a Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer?
California law does not require citizens to have an attorney for any reason. A person could be facing the most serious criminal charges in the state, and they can still represent themselves if they choose to do so. With this in mind, is it necessary to involve law offices in the prenup process? Can’t you and your partner come up with the terms of your agreement on your own and pay a small fee to sign in front of a notary? While this certainly is an option, it’s one that’s fraught with potential errors.
California state law is complex when it comes to premarital agreements. While you may think you’re securing your future property rights, you might be doing nothing more than creating an invalid contract if certain common mistakes are made. It’s also worth noting that these contracts don’t get filed in state courts once they’re complete. Each spouse will retain their own copy, and if something happens during a marriage and these documents are lost, enforcement will be nearly impossible. If you have the help of family law services, these documents will be safely stored in the unfortunate event that you need them.
Far too may people attempt to handle their own prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to save money. In reality, such an approach can have the opposite effect. While you will experience an upfront cost by seeking legal help, you’ll also avoid costly mistakes that could leave your best interests unaccounted for in the future. Prenuptial agreement attorneys can help you avoid such issues, and since Kim Mediation and Law Center provides free consultations, you can get a better grasp on your situation without breaking the bank.
Contact a Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer in Los Angeles Today
Prenuptial agreements provide a variety of protections under California law. Of course, they also very frequently take away certain rights from at least one individual who signs them. This is why the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act is so clear on the importance of retaining an attorney. While having legal representation isn’t a requirement — particularly if your premarital agreement will not restrict future spousal support — having an attorney who’s focused on your best interests is paramount. And even if you’ve decided on all the details ahead of time, visiting a family law firm can help you ensure your agreement meets statutory regulations prior to signing.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we strive to make marital issues as easy to deal with as possible. Whether you’ve made important decisions prior to your marriage or need assistance with postnuptial agreements, a knowledgeable lawyer can assist with creating, drafting, storing, and — when necessary — filing these documents. Call or contact us today to speak with a prenuptial agreement lawyer in Los Angeles, CA. With our legal team on your side, you can be sure that your premarital contract stays within the confines of the law while meeting your unique needs. Schedule a free consultation today.