California Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Protect Assets
San Francisco lawyers draft and enforce marital agreements
Katherine Shlaudeman Law and Mediation Practice Katherine works with individuals and couples who wish to negotiate property and certain support rights and obligations before or after they are married. One function of these agreements is to determine the division of property and alimony or spousal support rights in a divorce. Often, however, couples just want to make their own decisions. By entering into a prenuptial (or premarital) and postnuptial (or postmarital) agreement, a couple can decide for themselves what their property and certain support rights and obligations should be, rather than allow that decision to be made for them.
If you and your spouse do decide to separate, having a potential settlement agreement already prepared may reduce the cost and stress of a divorce, especially if your estate is complex or worth a great deal.
Choosing how your agreement is negotiated and drafted is very important. It is a decision that you and your future spouse should make together. The traditional adversarial process is not the only option and may not be the best. Many couples work together to create their own agreements in mediation or a collaborative setting. In both cases, each person still retains his or her own attorney to educate you on the law and help protect your rights and interests. Katherine represents individuals in the drafting and negotiation of these agreements and also works with couples as a mediator.
It is important that your agreement be drafted by a qualified family law attorney. Pre- and postnuptial agreements are legal contracts that are enforceable by law and may be difficult to challenge.
Terms of a prenuptial agreement
A prenuptial agreement addresses, in specific terms, many matters, including the following:
- Who gets what assets in the event that you decide to end your marriage
- How finances and assets will be handled during the marriage
- The terms of any alimony or spousal support
- Any business ownership issues
- What to do with your estate in the event that one of you predeceases the other
- The handling of gifts, inheritances, or trusts
- Benefits and disability and insurance coverage
A comprehensive prenup or postnup can help prevent disagreement or conflict later on.
Terms of a post-nuptial agreement
Married couples are considered fiduciaries of each other. This means that any postnuptial agreement they enter into must comply with certain legal duties and obligations. For this reason, it is important that the agreement be drafted correctly, and that all financial disclosure requirements are met. Most of the issues that can be addressed in a prenuptial agreement can be addressed in a postnuptial agreement as well.
Challenging and enforcing prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements
If you have a pre- or postnuptial agreement that your spouse wants to contest, it is important to retain an attorney who has experience drafting and enforcing these agreements. If you and your spouse cannot resolve the dispute out of court, you may need to litigate it.
On the other hand, if you signed a prenuptial or a post-nuptial agreement that you were unfairly pressured into, you were deceived into signing, or you signed without full disclosure of your spouse’s financial resources, you may be able to challenge it in court.