If you are planning to get married in the foreseeable future, then you have probably at least thought about the possibility of a prenuptial agreement. And if you have not, well the time is now to think about it. A prenuptial agreements might feel like an unromantic process or something only wealthy individuals on second and third marriages obtain. And while working out a prenuptial agreement is probably not anyone’s idea of a romantic afternoon, neither is buying life insurance or getting vaccinations before going on an international trip. Which is to say that just because something is not romantic or fun doesn’t mean it’s not an important step to protect yourself from severe consequences down the road. Furthermore, although wealthy individuals might have more assets to protect, any person getting married runs the risk of severe financial complications following a divorce, complications which a prenuptial agreement can help you mitigate and plan for far ahead of time.
Prenuptial Agreements Can Protect All Parties Involved
As a spouse-to-be, it is possible that neither you nor your partner has significant assets or business holdings that you are concerned about protecting and/or obtaining a share of following a divorce. But, remember, your prenuptial agreement will primarily come into play at the time of a divorce, not at the time of marriage. Should you and your partner stay married for 20 or 30 years, it will be impossible to gauge at the time you get married what your finances or assets will look like decades down the line. Perhaps there will be millions at stake. An experienced family law attorney can prepare a prenuptial agreement that is flexible enough to address all potential financial circumstances in a comprehensive fashion.
A prenuptial agreement can be just as important - if not more important - where a couple has more modest assets at the time of a separation. Beyond property distribution, potential spousal support payments can quickly reach into the thousands of dollars per month even for people with modest incomes, and how a family law court addresses such issues can have a huge impact on each partner’s financial stability. With a prenuptial agreement, both spouses can have certainty throughout the marriage regarding those financial aspects of their lives post-divorce.
Without a Prenup, State Law is Your Default Prenuptial Agreement
Many people avoid obtaining a prenuptial agreement because they have the well-intentioned thought that creating a prenup is setting themselves up for divorce. But that is no more the case than buying flood insurance is setting yourself up for a flood. Divorces happen to couples regardless of whether they have a prenuptial agreement in place, and very few people marry with the intent of obtaining a divorce someday. But, as with your financial circumstances, it is impossible to know what the future will hold for you and your partner and whether continuing to stay married will make sense decades from now.
Without a prenuptial agreement, you are essentially making the state law your default prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement generally dictates how a couple’s property will be distributed and what, if any, spousal support will be paid following a divorce. Without an agreement, the laws of the state having jurisdiction over your divorce (which can be changed between the time you marry and divorce) will answer those questions. And a family law judge may have wide discretion in how those laws should apply to your particular situation.
In essence, a prenuptial agreement makes sense for you and your soon-to-be spouse if you want to decide how your finances should be handled following a divorce. By forgoing such an agreement, you are simply handing those personal financial decisions over to an unknown third party years applying whatever law might be in place many years down the line.
Get Answers to Your California Prenuptial Agreement Questions
To schedule a consultation regarding any questions about prenuptial agreements, contact one of the family law attorneys at Kearney Baker today at 626-768-2945.