Prenuptial And Postnuptial Agreements: Set Your Own Terms

As a community property state, California regulates mutual property rights for married couples. Many landowners, business owners, professionals and others choose to stipulate their own rights and obligations through premarital and postmarital contracts — commonly referred to as prenups and postnups.

At Bay Area Divorce, we help clients draft, assess, enforce and attack prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Our practice is led by Board Certified Family Law Specialist* Mark Ressa, and he applies extensive legal knowledge and over 35 years of experience to protect our clients' interests through marital contracts.

Located in San Ramon, we represent clients in Alameda and Contra Costa counties and the surrounding areas.

Scope And Enforceability Of Prenuptial And Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements (signed before marriage) and postnuptial agreements (signed during the marriage) allow people to set the terms of property division in the event of divorce or the death of a spouse, rather than leaving these important matters to state law. For this reason, many people with family businesses or other significant assets, as well as children from prior relationships, choose to enter into prenuptial agreements before marriage. An inheritance or change in circumstances may lead you to enter into a postnuptial agreement during marriage.

When drafting or signing any contract, it is critical to ensure it not only protects your interests but that it would be legally enforceable. In order to be valid, any premarital agreement must be signed by both parties. Prenuptial agreements can later be revoked, with signatures by both parties, but any such activity can give rise to questions of undue influence later, as can initiating a postnuptial agreement. The relationship between spouses can lead to a presumption that one is taking advantage of the other.

Different levels of disclosure apply to pre- and postnuptial agreements.

Under California law, spouses have a fiduciary duty to one another. If you fail to fully and properly disclose the value of an asset to your spouse, or to deal in good faith, the courts could penalize you and award the full value of the asset to the misled spouse upon divorce. Because a fiduciary relationship does not exist until a couple is married, the presumption of undue influence does not apply to prenuptial agreements.

The bottom line: Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are legal contracts. When entering into such an agreement or attempting to enforce or invalidate one, it is critical to seek guidance from a skilled and reputable lawyer. Call Bay Area Divorce at 925-328-0103.

Consider A Marital Plan

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements primarily address financial concerns, but there is another contract that can define the terms of your marriage. Mr. Ressa is among a select number of attorneys pioneering marital plans, contracts guiding marriage.

Not all marriages are the same, nor do they fit into the mold of California family law. Through a marital plan, you can define the purpose and terms of your marriage. Perhaps it is a parenting marriage or a financial safety or companionship marriage. Mr. Ressa can help you protect your rights and interests in a nontraditional, modern marriage. Learn more by contacting Bay Area Divorce. You may also like to read, "The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels," by therapist Susan Pease Gadoua and journalist Vicki Larson.

Schedule A Confidential Legal Consultation

We invite you to contact us today to discuss your legal needs with one of our experienced attorneys. Call 925-328-0103 or send us this online form and request a confidential legal consultation.

*Mark Ressa is a Certified Legal Specialist in Family Law by the California Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California.