As couples contemplate spending the rest of their lives together, the idea of signing a pre-nuptial agreement might seem unromantic at best, and like planning for failure at worst. However, there is much to be gained by establishing such a contract prior to marriage. The truth is that even some of the happiest of couples can sometimes drift apart, and being prepared for such an event with a pre-nuptial agreement can go a long way towards making the process as painless as possible for both parties.
Why Choose a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
A pre-nuptial contract allows you and your spouse to determine how your future communal property should be divided, as opposed to leaving it all in the hands of the court. It is also important to note that pre-nuptial agreements are not just relevant in situations where there are substantial amounts of wealth involved. Regardless of the current value of your assets, the agreement can grant you the peace of mind that your financial future is protected under the worst of circumstances. When combined with the above considerations, you can see how a pre-nuptial agreement gives you the best chance of a speedy, amicable split in the event of a divorce.
While pre-nuptial agreements are primarily enforced during a divorce, that is not their only purpose. They can also help you determine how your property should be handled in the event of your death, depending on the terms you decide to include. Of course, there are limitations regarding which assets can and cannot be included within the terms of such an agreement, as well as rules detailing the legal requirements a pre-nuptial document to be considered valid and enforceable. As such, working alongside an experienced Upland pre-nuptial agreement lawyer with a thorough understanding of the process will help you ensure that the agreement covers every relevant detail and meets your exact needs.
What Constitutes a Legal Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
To be considered legally binding, a pre-nuptial agreement must be signed with full consent by both parties. Both you and your spouse must have access to the entirety of the information included within, including the value of the assets described and the nature of their distribution after divorce or death. Both parties must be of sound mind and cannot be under coercion to sign the agreement.
In addition, pre-nuptial agreements carry a minimum waiting period of seven days prior to signing. This requirement ensures both parties have adequate time to review the documents with their respective legal counsel. While some terms can be enforced without involving separate lawyers, if you wish to include anything in reference to future spousal support, you each must have your own Upland pre-nuptial agreement lawyer.
What Terms Can Be Included in a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
As stated above, there are a number of different terms that can be included within a pre-nuptial agreement. These agreements frequently include details regarding spousal support, which refers to a regular amount paid by one person to their former spouse in the event of a divorce. Spousal support often applies to situations where the recipient made significant sacrifices during the marriage that have impacted their future financial prospects. During divorce proceedings, the decision whether to award spousal support and the amount awarded is determined by the courts. However, this decision can be modified or even waived altogether according to the terms of a well-crafted, legally sound pre-nuptial agreement.
Another term that is often included in a pre-nuptial agreement is the reclassification of property. Division of property is an important part of the divorce proceedings and impacts the distribution of separate and communal property to the spouses involved. Generally speaking, separate property is any property acquired prior to the marriage, and it is retained by the original owner in the event of a divorce. Communal property is property acquired during the marriage, whether it be business or investment earnings, real property like a home or vehicle, or the income of both spouses. Pre-nuptial agreements allow you to alter the division to a degree, whether you choose to make previously separate property communal or establish that certain property obtained during the marriage should be considered separate according to the terms of your agreement.
The final term often included in a pre-nuptial agreement is a waiver of inheritance rights, meaning that the spouse waives their rights to an inheritance after their partner dies. In the state of California, spouses are entitled to a sizable portion of a decedent’s estate, but this can be altered with a well written pre-nuptial agreement. This provision can be particularly useful in situations where both parents wish to ensure that any inheritance is passed on to their children, especially if they have children from previous relationships.
Are There Terms a Pre-Nuptial Agreement Cannot Include?
When depicted in the media, pre-nuptial agreements are sometimes used to ensure proper conduct during a marriage. Often, they do so by including items like “infidelity clauses,” where an act of adultery could invalidate a person’s rights to communal property. However, California is considered a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. As such, marital misconduct is not a factor during divorce proceedings, and is entirely unenforceable in pre-nuptial agreements.
If the courts determine that any of the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement have become grossly unfair at the time of enforcement, they would no longer be considered valid. For instance, if the spouse agreed to waive their rights to spousal support but now finds themselves in a financially perilous situation while their former partner still enjoys an abundance of wealth, it is likely that the courts would rule against the agreement. Agreements also cannot include any terms regarding child custody rights, as those are determined by the courts at the time of the divorce to ensure that all decisions are made in the best interest of the child. The same applies to child support, as pre-nuptial agreements cannot set terms below the minimum requirement for child support payments.
Can a Pre-Nuptial Agreement Be Altered?
When people envision the legal process involving pre-nuptial agreements, they often focus on the “pre-nuptial” aspect, which literally translates to “before marriage.” However, these agreements can be altered throughout the course of the marriage or even revoked altogether if both parties consent. This ensures that during your relationship, you and your partner remain in agreement regarding how its terms should be interpreted if the marriage were ever dissolved.
Contact Pre-Nuptial Agreement Attorney Stephanie J. Squires for Expert Legal Guidance
Navigating the world of pre-nuptial agreements can be an intimidating prospect. However, many couples eventually experience a situation where a pre-nuptial becomes necessary and are extremely grateful they prioritized protecting their assets prior to marriage. The Law Office of Stephanie J. Squires is equipped to answer all your most important questions and ensure that your agreement is perfectly suited to your needs. Not only does Stephanie J. Squires have extensive experience with this particular branch of family law, but she is also diligent, hands-on, and will work with you through every step of the pre-nuptial process. Contact Stephanie J. Squires online to schedule your consultation today.