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Ask the County Law Librarian – Prenuptial agreements

Q. Hi Law Librarian,

My fiancée, Julie, has requested that we write a prenup. We don’t really have many assets. I thought only rich people needed prenups.

Ronald

A. Hi Ronald,

Actually, “prenups” or prenuptial agreements or premarital agreements are not just for the rich. These agreements in California are governed by California’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act CA Family Code section 1610-1617.

A premarital agreement is an agreement between an engaged couple that will take effect when they get married. Some reasons to set up a premarital agreement: pass separate property to children from prior marriages; clarify financial rights and responsibilities during marriage; and get protection from debts.

What you can’t do with a premarital agreement: restrict child support, custody or visitation rights; give up the right to alimony; and make rules about non-financial matters like household chores.

Under section 1614 of the CA Family Law Code, you are allowed to amend or revoke your premarital agreement after you get married, following a similar procedure as the initial creation of the agreement.

The most important part of the Act is found in section 1615, which sets out when a premarital agreement in California is enforceable and when it isn’t. There must be financial disclosure, the premarital agreement must not be unconscionable, there must not be any coercion, and the parties must understand what they are signing. California requires that there be at least seven days between when the party if first presented with an agreement and when the agreement is signed.

Here’s a link to a quick glance to the pro’s and con’s of a premarital agreement from our friends at Nolo.com. If you want to write your own , Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair & Lasting Contract,  by Katherine E. Stoner and Shae Irving, can get you started; it provides information about each state’s laws, plus legal research tips. For same sex couples or domestic partners in California there is this resource Prenups for Partners Essential Agreements for California Domestic Partners.

Congratulations! Wishing you all the best.

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email sacpress@saclaw.org. If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian
www.saclaw.org

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