Prenuptial agreements protect your personal interests in divorce

Getting engaged is a life-changing event for many people in California. You probably looked forward to the moment when you or your significant other had the opportunity to say "Yes" for quite some time before the right opportunity finally arose.

An engagement marks the beginning of a journey that two people plan on making through life, but amid the flowers, dress and venue shopping for the wedding, you might have forgotten an invaluable part of the process -- a prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreement as a planning tool

If you cringed at the thought of asking your soon-to-be spouse for a prenuptial agreement, you are not alone. Many people feel that asking for a prenup will sow the first seeds of divorce in their marriages. With a divorce rate that currently teeters between 40 to 50 percent, the chance to divorce is there regardless, and it is best to be prepared.

Prenups allow you and your partner to maintain your respective separate properties, protecting your personal and financial interests in the event of a divorce.

What a prenup can do (and what it can't)

Most people use prenuptial agreements to protect their personal property, but these planning documents are also useful for so much more. These uses include the following:

  • Personal matters, including where the couple intends to live and who bears the childrearing responsibilities
  • Future fidelity, which may require a spouse who cheated to forfeit certain property rights or spousal support
  • Property rights, which includes property owned both before and after a marriage, such as who will remain in the marital home in the event of a divorce

While useful, prenups are not documents that can enforce whatever couples may like. Provisions may not violate state or federal law, and cannot override certain court-ordered matters, such as child support. Prenuptial agreements cannot protect undisclosed property either.

Your future financial security could lie in your prenuptial agreement

Whether you own and operate a business, recently received an inheritance or own other significant personal assets, prenuptial agreements provide necessary protections in the event of a divorce. Many people mistakenly believe that because they brought an asset into a marriage, that it will remain separate property. How couples handle the asset during marriage typically determines whether an asset is separate or marital.

California family law is incredibly complicated, but a prenuptial agreement can help couples trek through marriage and divorce more easily. However, it is important to work under the guidance of an experienced lawyer who understands these matters to ensure that your prenup is fully enforceable.

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