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What makes a California prenuptial agreement valid?

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2023 | DIVORCE - High-Asset Divorce

Vowing to an enduring relationship is how you dignify your marriage. But no matter how solid your relationship is now, one of the wisest decisions you can make as a couple is to draft a prenuptial agreement should you contemplate divorce.

It is a legal contract that outlines how to protect your financial and property interests. In essence, it helps you and your spouse avoid unnecessary disputes should the time come. But a prenuptial, or a premarital agreement in California, only becomes valid if you follow the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) terms. 

Meeting UPAA requirements

Although entered before marriage, a premarital agreement becomes effective during marriage. You may agree on terms about your present and future marital property, such as rights of buying, selling or using, and ownership or disposal in case of death or other related occurrences. Also, the agreement cannot adversely impact child support. On the other hand, waiving spousal support can only be valid if an independent legal counsel is present at the time of signing.

All outlined terms become valid or enforceable upon meeting the following requirements. The premarital agreement must:

  • Be a written and notarized contract
  • Have both parties’ voluntary signatures
  • Allow seven days for both parties to seek independent legal representation before signing

Conversely, a premarital agreement becomes invalid if it contains unconscionable, meaning unfair or unreasonable, terms as determined by the court. It may also be that either of you signed involuntarily, or failed to fully disclose your financial or property information.

If you’re already married and come to realize how much you need a mechanism to protect your wealth, a postnuptial agreement is a viable choice. It generally works like a premarital agreement, but it gives you a chance to assess substantial changes in your financial circumstances, such as large amounts of inheritances or business bankruptcy, now that you’re married.

Your concerns are valid

A premarital agreement is a sign that you understand the possibility for things to happen, and not necessarily that you hope for them to happen to you. Bracing for financial impact gives you a fighting chance to start fresh when things break down. Your legal counsel can help you have a good grasp of the nature and extent of your rights and obligations in these complex situations.