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Who needs a prenuptial agreement in California?

Prenuptial agreements are no longer uncommon in California, but many people wonder if they need one. After all, getting married is supposed to be an emotional and romantic experience, not a business negotiation. Nevertheless, many marriages end in divorce despite the good initial intentions of the spouses. If a couple should decide that they need to end their marriage, a proper prenuptial agreement can save them emotional energy and financial burden by resolving a number of issues in advance.

A person who has accumulated significant assets prior to the marriage may want a prenuptial agreement to identify those assets and keep them beyond the reach of California's community property laws. A person who anticipates receiving a significant inheritance during the marriage may want to specify that the inheritance will not become community property. Both prospective spouses may benefit from a prenuptial agreement if both of them have significant assets. A prenuptial agreement may also help resolve business issues if the spouses are business partners or shareholders in a close corporation.

Some issues are beyond the reach of a prenuptial agreement. These agreements cannot require either party to forego spousal support. Similarly, prenuptial agreements may be unenforceable if their terms adversely affect the rights of children of the marriage to receive adequate parental support.

Prenuptial agreements can be useful in many cases, but they are not for everyone. Moreover, the failure to make adequate financial disclosure to the prospective spouse may render the agreement unenforceable. Anyone wondering about asking for or signing a prenuptial agreement should consult a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the financial aspects of divorces. Such a consultation can provide guidance about the overall advisability of signing such an agreement and whether individual terms should be requested or renegotiated.

Source: FindLaw, "California Prenuptial Agreements," accessed on March 27, 2017

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