Marital Agreements – Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial

While often looked upon as buzz-killers of prenuptial bliss, having a prenuptial or post-marital agreement can help a couple to avoid some very unpleasant, distressful and expensive litigation in the event they later decide to divorce.  Considered de rigueur for couples where one partner enters the marriage with a much higher net worth than the other, these agreements can change what might be a terribly complex and emotional divorce into a fairly simple matter.

The Prenuptial Agreement

As the term implies, a prenuptial agreement is entered into in advance of a marriage.  Since a marriage is considered to be, among other things, a legal agreement between parties in the State of California, a prenuptial agreement can be considered as simply an addendum to the marriage agreement, which provides a method of dissolution should the marriage not work out.  The prenuptial agreement lays out a plan for the division of assets, assignment of spousal support, and any other items that might be covered in a divorce including future rights to inheritances, pensions, etc.

A prenuptial agreement is usually drawn up by a lawyer, working for the partner bringing the bulk of the assets to the marriage.  The other partner should retain a lawyer to review the agreement and ensure that it is fair and reasonable, and does not infringe upon his or her rights.  A prenuptial agreement can be used to cover pretty much everything except child support, which is prohibited from being included in prenuptial agreements in the State of California.

The Post-Marital Agreement

Much like a prenuptial agreement, a post-marital agreement covers the division of assets and pretty much everything thing that might be considered in a divorce should the marriage fail.  A post-marital agreement, as the name implies, is generally drawn up some time after a marriage has taken place, with the assistance of one or more lawyers, and is considered binding when signed by both spouses.

Challenging a Prenuptial or Post-Marital Agreement

Prenuptial and post-marital agreements, like any other contracts, may be challenged in court, particularly in the case where one of the spouses was not fully informed of the other spouse’s financial disposition at the time of signing.  This may or may not be intentional; a spouse may be unaware of assets to which he or she may be entitled and therefore not include them in the agreement.  For these and many other reasons, a prenuptial or post-marital agreement may be challenged in court.

When hiring a family law attorney to draft a prenuptial or post-marital agreement, it is wise to consider the attorney’s reputation, and select counsel with considerable experience in drafting air-tight agreements free of legal loopholes, making the agreement less likely to be challenged.

Entering into a seemingly cold and calculating legal agreement may seem a less than optimistic way to begin a marriage, but taken at face value it should be considered a simple addendum to the marriage contract, and can save both parties a tremendous amount of emotional distress and legal expenses in the long run. More on finding an Irvine CA divorce attorney here