Pre- and postnuptial agreements help in property division matters

In California, as in other areas where large segments of the population have a higher-than-average net worth, pre-nuptial agreements are considered to be just good business. In addition to these agreements signed prior to the wedding, many couples now have their legal representatives draw up post-nuptial agreements to deal with property division matters that may arise during the course of the marriage. Those who have made these agreements say that far from indicating a lack of trust or faith in marriage, it helps support it by eliminating situations that could cause conflict between partners.

Once thought to be a tool for the mega-rich to protect their assets from unscrupulous romantic partners, the trend in defining the division of assets prior to the wedding now includes those of more modest means. These are individuals who wish to protect themselves, and in many cases their heirs, from state property division laws in the event of a divorce. It is especially helpful for those who marry later in life and want their heirs to receive their assets. In the absence of a pre-nuptial agreement, portions of the individuals property or business assets would be awarded to the spouse in a divorce. An agreement of this type would allow assets like these to be transferred intact to whomever the individual specified in their estate documents.

Post-nuptial agreements are agreements drawn up during the marriage, generally in response to an issue that requires specific behavior on the part of one or both spouses. An example would be if there has been an episode of infidelity, but the aggrieved partner decides to stay in the marriage. The "post-nup" may be drawn up to specify that should infidelity occur again, the divorce will proceed and the person guilty of the infidelity will waive their rights to any marital property.

Experts in these types of documents say that it is best to have the help of someone who is familiar with the details of how to draft them and what the law allows in property division matters. They are not a "do-it-yourself" type of agreement. Although there is generally a fee for the services of a person familiar with California property division laws to assist in making the agreement, many who have them drawn up believe they are worth the investment.

Source: Fox Business, "9 Questions You’re Embarrassed to Ask About Prenups," Alden Wicker, July 11, 2013

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