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The benefits of a prenuptial agreement in California

Requesting one's finance to sign a prenuptial agreement may seem like the antithesis of the romance that supposedly infuses a wedding. In fact, though, a prenuptial agreement can improve the couple's chances of enjoying a long and affectionate relationship. A properly drafted prenuptial agreement can remove some of the uncertainty that is an ordinary part of life.

A prenuptial agreement is a contract in which the two engaged people agree on the division of their marital and non-community property in the event of a divorce. Generally, prenuptial agreements are used in the case of marriage between persons who have unequal personal estates.

The person with the larger estate may wish to ensure that these assets are not shared with the other spouse. Prenuptial agreements are especially useful for people entering into second or third marriages, where one or both spouses have children from a prior marriage. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that personal, non-marital assets will not be distributed to the children of the other spouse in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can also specify whether spousal support will be paid.

California has several rules that affect the validity of prenuptial agreements. The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. Both parties must make a complete disclosure of financial information, with at least seven days between the disclosure and the signing of the agreement.

A separate attorney must represent each spouse unless that right has been waived in writing. If either party makes a material misstatement of fact to persuade the other party into signing the agreement, the misrepresentation can be used as grounds for later invalidating the agreement.

Anyone contemplating asking his or her finance to sign a prenuptial agreement, or anyone who has been asked to sign such a document, would be well advised to consult an experienced family law attorney for advice on both the substance and form of the agreement. After all, knowledge is power.

Source: FindLaw.com, "California Prenuptial Agreements," accessed on Sept. 4, 2017

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