Prenuptial Agreements

PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS are governed by California’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. A premarital or prenuptial agreement is an agreement entered into by an engaged couple that takes effect once they are married. Such agreements must be in writing.

Most financial issues can be dealt with in a premarital agreement with some important exceptions noted below. To be valid: there must be financial disclosure, there may be no coercion, and the parties must understand what they are signing. California law requires that there be at least 7 days between when a party receives an agreement and when that party signs it.

If the premarital agreement attempts to limit or waive spousal support, the party eligible for spousal support must have independent counsel before entering into the agreement. If not, those provisions are unenforceable. In addition, spousal support provisions are not enforceable if they are unconscionable at the time of enforcement. Because a couple’s financial circumstances may change over the course of a marriage, it is almost impossible to determine in advance whether a spousal support provision written before the marriage will be enforceable at the time of separation.

Issues dealing with children, including child support and custody, are not permitted in a premarital agreement. California also prohibits premarital agreements from covering obligations during the marriage, such as household chores, sexual relations, or penalties for adultery.