Prenuptial agreements, also known as prenups or premarital agreements, are contractual agreements entered into before a marriage. While not always viewed as the most romantic of gestures, depending on your situation and the assets you are bringing into a marriage, you or your spouse may benefit from the added security of an understanding as to the protection of those assets in the event that the marriage fails.
SVLO’s take on premarital agreements is that it is “romantic” or at the very least a gesture of love, because what we’ve seen is that marriages routinely breakup due to issues stemming from arguments over finances. By going through the process of drafting a premarital agreement, we will help you and your partner have the difficult discussions concerning spending and finances before marriage and put a plan in place that avoids conflict from these issues after marriage. In this way, we view the agreement as a tool that helps keep parties together and never needing to use it. Romantic? Possibly. Helpful in keeping parties together? Definitely!
There are a number of factors that will determine the areas that a premarital agreement needs to cover, and because no two marriages are alike, our approach is tailored to the parties unique situation. We are well-versed in California law governing marital relationships, as well as the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) which outlines the requirements a prenup must meet to be enforceable, and can work with you and your spouse-to-be to ensure the agreement is drafted in such a way that it protects both of you and provides for your future together.
Despite widespread misconceptions about prenups, particularly in popular culture where they are often framed as indicating a lack of trust, either between the partners or in the marriage itself, it is a good idea for every couple to at least consider having one drafted with the aid of experienced legal counsel. Valid prenuptial agreements require each partner to disclose their assets and debts that they are each bringing into the relationship, and putting this formally in writing will help protect your respective assets in the event that one of you predeceases the other. Not all relationships end in divorce, after all, and all relationships would heavily benefit from going through the process involved in drafting a valid premarital agreement and discussing expectations before officially tying the knot.
One important detail to note regarding premarital agreements is that under California law, there is a required waiting period of seven (7) days to lapse from the date the last change was made to the agreement and when the prenuptial agreement is signed by the parties. This allows time for each partner to retain counsel and carefully consider the terms of the agreement. Another important document to sign prior to signing the agreement is a Waiver of Further Disclosures, which parties sign to show that they are satisfied with the disclosures made prior to signing.
We strongly encourage hiring competent counsel to draft the agreement, in order to be sure that the terms of the agreement best suit your needs and that it is a VALID agreement by closing the many loop-holes that can cause a premarital agreement to be found invalid by the Court.
Post Nuptial Agreements
Similar to premarital agreements, post-marital agreements, also known as postnuptial agreements, allow both parties in a marriage to formally outline the division of their assets in the event of divorce or separation. Unlike premarital agreements, however, postnuptial agreements are entered into after a couple has already been married—sometimes many years after the date of marriage, a couple may decide that a post-marital agreement is right for them.
If you are already married but have concerns about the characterization of you or your spouse’s specific assets, it would be worthwhile to consult with our experienced attorneys, who can help walk you through the process and best possible ways to draft the agreement that address your concerns. Postnuptial agreements can also be useful in determining which, if any, of your premarital assets should become shared property, and can also be used to provide for either family, or children from a previous marriage, etc, in the event of divorce or separation.
Like with a premarital agreement, a postnuptial agreement can help both parties feel more secure in their marriage and with their own finances, understanding the manner in which they will be provided for and protected should the worst case scenario come to pass.
A cohabitation agreement is a formal, legally binding contract between romantic partners who are living together in a long-term relationship, but are not married. Because California does not have ‘common law marriage’ (which, in some states, can confer the rights of a married couple on partners who have cohabited for a certain length of time), cohabitation agreements can be extremely important in protecting both partners assets, as well as their rights in the event of a breakup or severe illness, injury, or death.
Even if your plan is to eventually marry your long-term partner, a cohabitation agreement may be a good idea, and can act as a prelude to an actual marriage or confer protections that will cover you and your partner until such time as you choose to get married. In the absence of marital plans, however, cohabitation agreements are useful in determining each of your assets and to what degree, if any, your partner will have a right to them in the event of separation or death. It is also useful should you and your partner choose to purchase property or vehicles together, or go in on a business venture, have children, or consider a detailed estate plan with one another.
Naturally, cohabitation agreements are incredibly varied and dependent on your needs individually and as a couple. Unlike pre and postnuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements do not have a specific list of criteria they must meet, and act more similarly to other types of contracts, and can be adjusted as the need arises and your circumstances or relationship change.
Our team is equipped with the experience necessary to help guide you through the creation of such an agreement, so that it will be valid and best meet the needs of you and your partner.
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