Family Law Blog

Make Sure Your Prenuptial Agreement is Valid

Thursday, August 04, 2016

prenuptial agreement, like any other contract, must meet certain requirements in order to be considered legally valid. The rules governing prenuptial agreements in California are laid out in California Family Code sections 1610-1617. Below are some of the common reasons prenuptial agreements are found to be invalid.

It isn’t in Writing

Under section 1611, “a premarital agreement shall be in writing and signed by both parties.” If it isn’t in writing and signed by both parties, it is invalid and cannot be enforced. Also important to note, a prenuptial agreement can only be modified in writing.

It Has Terms that are Against Public Policy

Certain terms of a prenuptial agreement may be considered invalid as being against public policy. Examples of such terms might be those that attempt to limit child support, to force a spouse to perform certain acts, or that impose a needlessly punitive outcome against a spouse.

There Was Duress, Fraud, or a Lack of Understanding

Both parties must have freely entered into the prenuptial agreement for it to be valid. If there was an enormous power imbalance at the time that a prenuptial agreement was signed, this is a sign that duress may have been present. Duress is also commonly claimed when a party didn’t have an adequate chance to think about the agreement before signing it.

If one party intentionally induced the other into signing the prenuptial agreement under false pretenses, this can also invalidate it. For instance, if a spouse lied about their finances or made promises they never intended to fulfill, this could be considered fraud and invalidate the prenuptial agreement.

Even a simple lack of understanding may invalidate a prenuptial agreement if the misunderstanding was reasonable. If a particular clause of a prenuptial agreement was written in a confusing or ambiguous way, it may not be enforceable. Ideally, a prenuptial agreement should be drafted and considered by both parties well in advance of a wedding, and each party should have the opportunity to consult with an attorney. Steps should always be taken to make sure both parties fully understand the document.

Have an Attorney Take a Look at It

A prenuptial agreement is a highly important document. When a couple decides to use a prenuptial agreement, the best course of action is to have it drafted—or at least reviewed by—an attorney. If you have any questions about this issue, please feel free to contact us.

Prenuptial Agreements Can Protect Both Parties

Friday, November 27, 2015

People often think of prenuptial agreements as one-sided, legal documents meant to protect the party with the most to lose. That is not always the case. Prenuptial (prenup) agreements can be put in place to protect both parties entering a marriage.

To start with, a prenuptial agreement puts all the financial cards on the table before the marriage begins. This is a smart step for any couple. At the very least, you will be entering marriage with a clear understanding of your separate and joint financial situations.

If you are already living with your spouse-to-be, a prenup can help define gray areas such as who claims the custom dining set and who owns the 60 inch flat-screen. It can also set the tone for equality going forward in the relationship. Using the prenup as a base, you can start your marriage with a clean slate.

The prenup can also ensure that valuable family heirlooms stay in the right family. Value can be monetary or sentimental in nature and both kinds of value come into play during an emotional divorce. No one can be sure what the future holds. Use your prenup to protect your most valued assets.

Of course, a prenuptial agreement also protects the heart, helping to ensure that both parties are marrying for love, not money. Who wouldn't want to have that in writing?

If you would like more information about how to create a mutually beneficial prenuptial agreement, contact us. At Jamra &Jamra we specialize in family law with a customized focus on our clients' needs. We serve clients in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, and Southern California from our Beverly Hills office.

Prenups and Pets in California

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Forget the China and antiques-in some marriages, the bigger divorce battles are over who gets to walk out with Fido or Max. Pets are an integral part of many American families, and therefore, it is understandable that when the marriage ends, the disputes over who gets to keep the pets begin.

There are no easy ways to divide the pets in a divorce. Unlike all of the other assets that have clearly defined rules related to distribution or custody, there are no clearly defined roles in California about the custody of pets in a divorce. When it comes to pets, your best bet at protecting your rights to your pet is to clearly define this in your prenuptial agreement. Mention in your prenuptial agreement that the pet that you owned before the marriage, will continue to remain with you if you exit the marriage. This will establish your rights to your pet, and protect your rights to the custody of the pet.

If you haven't gotten yourself a prenup, it isn't too late to clearly define your rights. Get a post-nuptial agreement. This is a contract which works very similarly to a pre-nup, except the timing of the agreement. A post-nuptial agreement is signed after the marriage, and can include all of the details that you want to settle in a prenuptial agreement too. The post-nuptial will clearly define your rights to your pet and the continuation of those rights even after the divorce. If the pet was bought by both you and your spouse jointly, things become more difficult. You might have to stipulate in the agreement for instance, that your pet must go with the spouse who has emotionally bonded with the animal, or who had more caretaking responsibilities.