Prenups in California: What You Need to Know

Prenup in California

If you’re getting a divorce in Stockton and you’ve signed a prenuptial agreement – commonly just called a prenup – here’s what you need to know.

What is a Prenup in California?

A prenup is a legal document that can help one party’s assets in a divorce. The Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act covers prenups under California law. The law says that parties to a prenup – in this case, you and your spouse – can agree to things like:

  • The rights and obligations of each party in any of the property, regardless of where or when it was acquired
  • Spousal support if the couple divorces
  • The making of a will, trust or other arrangement to carry out the agreement’s provisions
  • The ownership rights of a life insurance policy’s death benefits
  • Other matters that don’t violate public policy

The content of the agreement can’t be extremely unfair, though – if it is, the judge in your divorce will most likely rule against it.

Related: What is community property?

How Do Prenups Work in California?

Prenup and Divorce in CaliforniaA prenup is only valid if both parties signed it knowing full well what they were signing.

If the court finds that it’s valid, there may still be some parts of it that the court views as unenforceable. For example, if there’s something that’s extremely unfair in it, the court can rule against it.

Sometimes, attorneys can fight against a prenup in court.

Prenuptial agreements made after 2002 are only enforceable if:

  • Both spouses have received complete information from the other spouse about property and finances before signing (meaning the other party was honest at the time)
  • The spouse who agreed to the prenup had at least one week between receiving it for the first time and signing it (that gives the person enough time to have an attorney review it)
  • The spouse who signed it was represented by an attorney of his or her own when signing it, or received full information in writing about the terms and effects of the agreement, as well as having signed a separate document that says he or she did receive that information

Related: Can a lawyer fight a prenuptial agreement in California?

Does a Prenup Protect One Party From Paying Alimony?

Prenup and Alimony in Divorce in CaliforniaA prenup can protect one party from paying alimony. However, in the past, courts have ruled that a waiver of alimony can only be enforced when spouses have pretty equal education and intelligence and who were both self-sufficient when they made the agreement.

If one spouse would need to go on public assistance to live while the other suffered no such hardship, that’s an example of extreme injustice – and the court may elect not to honor that part of the prenup.

Does a Prenup Protect One Party From Paying Child Support?

Prenups cannot address child support. California law requires that both parents are responsible for the support of their children, and the state uses a complex formula to determine how much child support will change hands in a divorce.

Related: Is child support mandatory in a divorce?

What About Property Division and Prenups?

Your prenup might address community property in a way that prevents you from having to divide it. In some cases, things like earnings during a marriage (which are ordinarily divided) can remain separate property. That means the spouse who earned them is the spouse who is entitled to them.

Inheritances and other assets can be addressed, too. For example, a parent with children from a prior relationship may use a prenup to exclude his or her current spouse from inheritance rights – that way, he or she can ensure that any inheritances are divided among the kids, rather than the kids and the spouse.

Do You Need to Talk to a Divorce Lawyer About Your Prenup?

If you’ve signed a prenuptial agreement and you’re getting a divorce, we may be able to help you.

Call us at (209) 546-6870 or get in touch with a Stockton divorce attorney online to schedule a consultation today. We’ll discuss your case, find out about your circumstances and start formulating a plan that gets you and your family the best possible outcome.