When you’re beginning your wedding planning, it is important to discuss financial issues with your future spouse. Especially if you have substantial assets, investments, net worth, or if you own a business, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement to help protect your financial interests. California’s divorce laws typically require you to split assets 50/50 upon divorce, so it is important to consider putting a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement in place to avoid losing ownership of important assets.
If you are getting married or beginning the divorce process, talk to our experienced Oxnard prenuptial and postnuptial agreement lawyers about your case. The Oxnard prenuptial and postnuptial lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth offer free consultations to help you understand the options you have for help protecting your assets during a marriage or divorce in California. For your free consultation, call our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.
What Does a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement Do Under California Law?
Under California law, a divorce usually means dividing joint property 50/50. Unlike some states which allow assets to be divided “equitably” or fairly, California is a “community property state.” This means that all property acquired during the marriage is automatically owned jointly by the spouses, so all property is divided in half during the divorce.
In determining what makes up each half of the property, the court totals the value of all community property and gives half to each spouse. This means that the parties do not need to divide each asset, but they can divide things up so that each person walks away with assets that total to the same value. If the parties cannot decide how to divide some items, they can be sold, and the proceeds can be divided in half instead.
Any assets you bring to the marriage are retained as “separate” or “individual” property. This property is always yours and is not divided with your spouse upon divorce. However, your spouse may still be entitled to share in the profits of any increase in value your individual property accumulates during the marriage. Additionally, any property or money that is intermingled with your spouse’s could become marital property, especially if you officially put your spouse’s name on it. This is common for joint bank accounts, investment portfolios, and property. Sometimes, property can even become intermingled by accident if you treat it as joint property.
A prenuptial agreement allows you to set solid boundaries as to what is individual property and what is community property. This can help you set aside things like investments, trusts, business dealings, and important high-value assets so you can keep them separate from your spouse’s property. You can also agree to intentionally share assets, like a house, guaranteeing your spouse a share in it if you get divorced.
Premarital agreements can also allow spouses to agree to terms for spousal support and other factors. If you cannot agree on the terms of a premarital agreement, a postnuptial or postmarital agreement can do many of the same things, but it is signed after the marriage takes place.
Are Premarital Agreements Fair to Both Sides?
Many people consider prenups to be very one-sided agreements that only benefit the wealthier spouse. There are many situations and factors that go into deciding to have a prenup, and many of them can actually benefit both sides in the marriage and possible divorce.
First, prenuptial agreements are fair to both sides if both sides bring substantial assets to the marriage. Many couples today have their own independent assets, investments, and wealth before they get married. This means that many prenuptial agreements are made to benefit both sides, not to protect one wealthy spouse at the expense of a less-wealthy spouse.
Second, prenuptial agreements may primarily benefit things like independently owned businesses. If you get married and accidentally mingle interest or ownership of a business with your spouse, determining ownership and other aspects of the business or shares in the business can become complicated during a divorce. Many prenups are designed to protect the business, and only touch the relationship as it relates to business ownership.
Third, many prenuptial agreements have strong terms to help the less-wealthy spouse. The wealthier spouse may get protections for their assets, but the other spouse can set terms that guarantee, up-front, what they will receive in the event of a divorce, what kind of spousal support they will continue to receive, and any terms related to infidelity clauses or similar contingencies. These terms can help guarantee that the less-wealthy spouse has something to fall back on if there is a divorce down the road.
Oxnard Prenuptial and Postnuptial Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you have business assets, investments, or substantial wealth, talk to an attorney about prenuptial agreements before saying “I do.” Many of the myths and misconceptions about prenuptial agreements scare people who could greatly benefit from having a pre- or postnuptial agreement in their marriage. For a free consultation on your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, talk to the Oxnard prenuptial agreement attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today at (805) 643-5555.