Pre-nuptial / Post-nuptial Agreements
Under California law, couples have tremendous freedom to contract with one another regarding the financial aspects of their marital relationships. Couples may change the “default” family law rules in California should they divorce in the future by creating a pre-nuptial (before marriage) or post-nuptial (after marriage) agreement.
For example, spouses may:
• contract out of the default community property system
• change the character of community or separate property
• define or waive spousal support rights in the event of divorce
The traditional way of creating these agreements is to have one person and his/her lawyer unilaterally create the document and send it to the other person and his/her lawyer to review, often without any conversation about what the agreement will contain. This often creates tension in the relationship and can feel very adversarial to both people, especially when they are starting their married life together or wanting to continue it.
A more satisfying way of creating this agreement is to have the couple, along with both of their lawyers, sit down together to discuss and jointly agree on what the terms of the agreement will be. This cooperative process results in thoughtful and creative agreements that articulate and accomplish the parties’ mutual goals, reducing the likelihood of future conflict.
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