Most California residents have heard of a pre-nuptial agreement, which is a written contract signed by a couple prior to marriage. A pre-nuptial agreement contains terms surrounding things like property division, alimony or other financial matters. Although couples do not intend to get divorced, a pre-nuptial agreement provides them with peace of mind knowing that if divorce does occur, they know what will happen.
If you are already married, you can still take advantage of these benefits through a post-nuptial agreement. While a pre-nuptial agreement is executed before marriage, a post-nuptial agreement is executed after marriage. Both types of agreements can save married couples time and money if they decide to divorce.
Reasons for a post-nuptial agreement
There are many reasons married couples choose to have a post-nuptial agreement drafted. One spouse may be expecting to receive an inheritance or monetary gift, career choices may change, or financial circumstances may be different or more complex than at the beginning of the marriage. A spouse who owns a business may want set terms regarding the business.
Sometimes a major life event can cause spouses to conclude that a post-nuptial agreement best fits their situation. Couples may even use a post-nuptial agreement as a way to strengthen a failing marriage.
Will a court uphold the agreement?
Once a post-nuptial agreement is in place, a court will generally uphold it, unless there is some evidence that one spouse lied about their financial situation or coerced the other spouse into signing the agreement. California law allows post-nuptial agreements but imposes a duty of good faith and fair dealing on each spouse.
A post-nuptial agreement can be executed at any point during the marriage. It can last for an indefinite period or expire at a certain point. Married couples who are considering a post-nuptial agreement can benefit from speaking with an experienced family law attorney, who can answer questions, provide advice and draft an agreement in everyone’s best interest.