With the rash of celebrity divorces recently, premarital and post-marital agreements are back in the popular conversation. Indeed, if you are getting married or already married in California, you may want to consider drafting a premarital or post-marital agreement.
What are they?
Premarital and post-marital agreements are legal contracts. These legal documents help you and your spouse define your rights and responsibilities regarding your property, debts, income and other aspects of your relationship.
They will just hurt my relationship, right?
Contrary to popular belief, these agreements are not a sign of mistrust or impending divorce. In fact, they can offer many benefits for couples who want to plan ahead and avoid potential conflicts in the future.
One of the benefits of drafting a premarital agreement is that it lets you protect your premarital assets from becoming community property. California treats everything that is acquired (both debt and assets) as shared equally between both spouses, with some exceptions. This concept is called community property.
A premarital agreement can help you specify which assets are yours and which are your spouse’s before you get married.
Similarly, you can decide how to handle your debts. A premarital or post-marital agreement can help you determine how to deal with any debts that you or your spouse may have before or during the marriage. You can agree to keep your debts separate, or to share them according to a certain percentage or formula. This can prevent you from being liable for your spouse’s debts in case of divorce or death, or vice versa.
Planning for your future
You can plan for your future together as a premarital or post-marital agreement can also help you and your spouse set goals and expectations for your relationship. For example, you can agree on how to manage your finances, how to support each other’s careers or education, how to raise your children, how to handle household chores, etc.
You can also include provisions for spousal support or alimony in case of divorce or separation. These agreements can help you communicate openly and honestly with your spouse and avoid misunderstandings or disputes later on.
You can also save time and money in case of divorce or death. If you ever decide to end your marriage, these agreements can make the process easier and faster. You can avoid lengthy and costly litigation over property and debt division, as well as spousal support. You can also reduce divorce emotional stress and conflict.
Similarly, if one of you passes away, having a premarital or post-marital agreement can simplify the administration of your estate and ensure that your wishes are respected.