What is the Purpose of a Premarital Agreement?

According to the California Family Code, a premarital agreement is an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage. In other words, a premarital agreement (commonly known as a prenuptial agreement, or prenup) is a signed and notarized contract that clearly spells out how a couple will handle the financial aspects of their marriage, and divorce, should the case may be.

For many individuals, prenups are terrible romance killers, a way for one partner to seemingly plan for the couple’s eventual demise.  These men and women view the premarital agreements as sure signs that their soon-to-be spouse does not believe in their shared love, or their ability to “last forever” as a couple.

So is it true? Or are prenuptial agreements actually practical solutions to dealing with the problematic topic of finances in a marriage?

One of the most common reasons couples divorce in California is over finances. As we have discussed in previous posts, absent an agreement to the contrary, when a couple marries in California, their income generally becomes ‘community property.’ Married couples often have differing views on how and where their community property should be spent. However, since the idea of talking openly and honestly about their financial situation can be terrifying to some, they avoid it. As is often the case, denial is not always the best solution when dealing with a significant issue and money is one we face in every day life.

Fortunately, finances do not have to be a sticking point in your relationship. An increasing number of couples are signing prenuptial agreements before they marry in the interest of placing all of their financial cards on the table before heading down the aisle. While many people assume that premarital agreements are only for the wealthy, or couples dealing with financial inequality, this is not the case.

Benefits of prenups include:

  • Better communication about finances
  • Elimination of uncertainties in money matters
  • Protects parties from future litigation (and the associated costs)
  • Creation of a plan that gives the parties financial security
  • Establishing procedures and ground rules for deciding future matters
  • Define what property is considered separate and/or community property

You may feel uncomfortable bringing up the concept of a premarital agreement with your soon-to-be-spouse. Many men and women are, as they do not want to offend or hurt the feelings of the person they love. A seasoned family lawyer will be able to talk you through the pros and cons for your specific situation and help you decide if a prenup is right for you and your partner.

For more information on premarital agreements, contact the Los Angeles family lawyers at Walzer & Melcher today.