Premarital Agreements

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The Right Prenuptial Agreement Can Strengthen Your Marriage

Every couple can benefit from the process of creating a premarital agreement as part of the essential preparation for married life. However, many people are even afraid to discuss these types of agreements because of their negative reputation. There is an erroneous assumption that creating a prenuptial agreement is a sign that a couple does not expect their marriage to last or that they do not trust each other.

While a prenuptial agreement reduces uncertainty if the marriage should end in divorce, that is far from the only benefit this kind of agreement can provide. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, our California Certified Family Law Specialists and associates help couples build a strong foundation for their marriages with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements that solidify their understanding and protect their interests.

How Prenuptial Agreements Work

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people who plan to get married. In this contract, they can establish certain terms that will control their marriage and override the presumptions in state law. A premarital or prenuptial agreement is one executed before the marriage, while a postnuptial agreement is a document created after a couple have already married.

For instance, if one partner owns a business, a prenuptial agreement might specify that the business will remain the separate property of that partner and that it will not become hybrid community property during the marriage. Or if one partner has children from a prior relationship, the agreement can specify that those children would receive ownership interests in a vacation cabin that has been in the family for generations, rather than having that property potentially divided as community property.

Couples can describe how they want to handle property and debts both at present and in the future. This can be helpful not only for couples preparing to get married but also for couples who are already married but who have suffered a crisis in their marriage. If there is a breach of trust in a marriage, such as if one spouse uses marital funds for excessive gambling, an attorney can prepare a postnuptial agreement to protect the interests of the other spouse while giving the couple a safe platform to rebuild the trust in their marriage.

One thing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement cannot do is establish rights and obligations with regard to child custody and child support. Those decisions are always made based on the best interests of the child at the time of the determination, and they cannot be settled in advance.

Why a Premarital Agreement Strengthens Marriages

A premarital agreement establishes guidelines for what happens at the end of a marriage, so how does it strengthen a marriage at the start? It is the process of creating the agreement that is probably the most important.

For a prenuptial agreement to be valid in California, both partners must have a full understanding of each other’s financial situation, including assets and debts. It is not romantic to talk about money, and most couples avoid it during their courtship and engagement. This can have disastrous results during their marriage, particularly when couples have different attitudes about saving, spending, and debt. Money matters cause more conflict during marriage than any other issue.

Because the process of creating a prenuptial agreement requires couples to provide each other with full disclosure about their financial situations, it essentially forces them to have some potentially difficult conversations that they would otherwise avoid. Like getting a preventative vaccine, the preparation that goes into creating a prenuptial agreement can prevent painful consequences in the future. Both parties enter the marriage knowing where they stand and what to expect in the future.

Early Planning is Essential

Because California law requires full disclosure and other conditions to be met, it takes considerable time to prepare a prenuptial agreement correctly. The worst thing a partner can do is have an attorney prepare a document and present it to the other partner demanding a signature right before the wedding.

Instead, partners need to work together to develop terms that work for both of them. Ideally, each partner would obtain advice from their own legal counsel who is focused solely on protecting their individual interests.

Let Holstrom, Block & Parke Protect Your Future with a Prenuptial Agreement

Many couples spend far more time preparing for their wedding than they do preparing for their marriage. If you own a business or have children from a prior relationship, a premarital agreement can offer invaluable protection for the future. But the process of preparing these agreements can benefit couples in every type of situation.

To start off on a solid basis of understanding, protect your interests, and avoid painful conflict in the future, work with the experienced family law attorneys at Holstrom, Block & Parke to create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Schedule a confidential consultation today to get started.