Family Law Attorney Serving Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, and Contra Costa County in California
The term “family law” covers a broad range of complex legal issues. This is because family law is attempting to address highly sensitive and emotionally charged aspects of your personal life, including whether to enter into a prenuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreement, how property should be divided in the event of a divorce, who should be responsible for providing financial support, etc. In many instances, family law issues can be overwhelming and confusing. That is why it makes sense to retain the services of an experienced family law attorney in Lafayette and Contra Costa County, CA.
Let's first address a common issue that arises when a couple is contemplating marriage – whether to enter into a prenuptial agreement.
There is a common misconception that premarital agreements are reserved only for wealthy couples. This is not accurate. Yes, it is true that asset protection is one of the primary reasons people consider entering into a premarital agreement, but there are other benefits associated with this legal document. In fact, if you have a well-crafted, comprehensive premarital agreement, then you mitigate the risk of potential future conflict and expensive litigation that routinely arises in divorce in Lafayette and Contra Costa County.
What Exactly is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A premarital agreement is, at its core, a contract entered into between two parties who are in the process, or the very least contemplating, marriage. A legally valid premarital agreement can establish rights and obligations with respect to the following issues:
- ownership and use of property,
- the acquisition of property during marriage,
- spousal support,
- debt payment, and
- inheritance rights.
Prenuptial Agreements Can Strengthen a Future Marriage
Some people mistakenly believe that entering into a prenup means you are planning to get divorced at some point in the future. This is not accurate. In fact, going through the process of discussing and drafting a prenup could strengthen your future marriage. How? Well, the process of drafting a legally valid prenup includes a full disclosure of your financial situation and entails having an open and honest discussion about finances with your future spouse.
What is Required for a Prenuptial Agreement to be Legally Valid?
There are very specific legal requirements for a prenuptial agreement to be valid under California law. A prenuptial agreement is only valid if all of the following elements are satisfied:
- The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties;
- The agreement was executed voluntarily (no duress, fraud, or undue influence);
- The agreement was not unconscionable (not unreasonably unfair to one party);
- Receipt of complete financial information about the other party's assets prior to signing the agreement;
- At least 7 days passed from the day that the agreement was received to the day that the agreement was signed (to allow time for an attorney to review the agreement);
- Proficiency in the language that the agreement was written;
- Representation by independent legal counsel (unless one spouse received full information about the terms of the agreement and signed a separate document acknowledging receipt of such information and waiving the right to their own attorney); and
- Principles of general contract law have not been violated.
If you're considering a prenuptial agreement, you need to retain the services of an experienced San Francisco family law attorney who will make sure that your contract is legally enforceable. The Geller Firm can help you prepare your prenuptial agreement.
Prenups and the Division of Property
One of the most valuable aspects of a prenup is proactively addressing what should be done with property you bring into a marriage and property accrued during the course of the marriage. In fact, in the absence of a prenup agreement, California community property laws are triggered and they state that all community property (i.e. any property acquired during the course of a marriage that is not a gift or inheritance) is to be divided equally.
Prenup Agreement Has Inherent Legal Limitations
It is important to understand that there are some inherent limitations associated with prenuptial agreements in California. Specifically, prenups hold no legal authority over issues related to child custody and child support. This is because the judicial system in California has exerted authority in these particular areas of family law and will assess child custody based on what is in a child's best interests. Regarding child support, courts in Lafayette and Contra Costa County view child support as a child's right, not the right of a parent that can be waived or altered via contract.
Have Questions? Contact The Geller Firm Today
If you have questions related to marital laws in California or whether it makes sense to enter into a prenuptial agreement, The Geller Firm is here to help. Our team of experienced Lafayette family law attorneys are capable of answering your questions, drafting a legally-valid prenuptial agreement, and handling all other family law matters. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and are proud to provide legal services in Lafayette and Contra Costa County, along with San Francisco, Concord, Antioch, Richmond, San Ramon, Pittsburg, Walnut Creek, Brentwood, Danville, Oakley, Martinez, Pleasant Hill, San Pablo, Lafayette, El Cerrito, Hercules, Orinda, Pinole, Moraga, and Clayton. Our legal team is available for virtual and in-person consultations. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.