Pre-Nuptial Agreements: What Are They and Do You Need One?
Beyoncé and Jay-Z had a prenup. So did Lamar and Khloe, but do you need one? Prenuptials are not for everyone. Pre-nups are contracts, entered into between persons intending to marry, that are drafted to protect wealth and assets. The emotional cost of a prenup is a factor that most people entering into a prenup must address. Prenups can be ice water in the warm Jacuzzi of romance if not handled properly by the attorneys on both sides. The person being asked to sign the prenup is thinking that their intended spouse only cares about money or doesn’t trust them. But that is simply not true. Getting past hurt feelings and raw emotions can be difficult. Prenups give the parties a chance to resolve differences in income and money, what each party will or will not contribute to the marriage, what will happen financially if the marriage ends, and the expectations of each party before the marriage.
People enter into prenups for various reasons. For younger people, often it is wealthy parents who want their children to have prenups to protect an inheritance or gift. For older people entering into second (or third) marriages, they are protecting their children’s inheritance. There are also wealthy women and men marrying dependent spouses who want to opt-out of the marital property laws and limit their exposure to alimony.
Prenups are powerful. Despite the urban legend that implies they will not be enforced, they are binding if well drafted. If you are likely to inherit wealth or have wealth, are a business owner, or if you have children from a prior marriage, a prenup is essential.
What makes a “well drafted” prenup is important. The California legislature has imposed the following requirements for a valid prenup: Both parties are represented by independent legal counsel at the time of signing the agreement or, have expressly waived, in a separate writing, representation by independent legal counsel; both parties having at least seven (7) calendar days to consider the agreement before signing it; both parties being fully informed of the terms and basic effect of the agreement as well as the rights and obligations he or she was giving up by signing the agreement; and evidence that the agreement was not signed under duress, fraud, or undue influence. If you look online and see a ‘quick and easy’ prenup, don’t use it. Most are completely worthless.
People often tell me that they are “afraid” to ask their fiancé for a prenuptial agreement or that they think its “unromantic”. What is unromantic is 5 years of divorce litigation and $100k in legal fees.
Denise Placencio is a Valencia, CA family law attorney with 20-years’ experience and recently passed the California State Certified Family Law Specialist Examination. If your family law attorney is not a Certified Family Law Specialist, they have not met rigorous trial requirements, continuing education demands and have not proven demonstrated proficiency in Family Law. Denise Placencio can be reached at 877-317-8080 for an appointment.
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