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November 14, 2009

Prenuptial Agreements: What The Heck Are They?

Wedding kiss photoxpress Prenuptial agreements are agreements between prospective spouses made in preparation of marriage. In marriage, each person has certain legals rights, such as property rights or spousal support (aka alimony). In order to modify these legal rights, the prenuptial agreement is used, which results in a person giving up certain rights which they would otherwise have acquired by reason of the marriage. Courts are increasingly recognizing prenuptial agreements due to rising incidence of divorce and remarriage.

It's A Contract Just In Case the Marriage Winds Up In Divorce

Contract 002 photoxpress Prenuptial agreements are like contracts. And like any contract, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed. It is very important to use an attorney to draw up a prenuptial agreement because problems arise when things are not specifically and carefully spelled out. For example, where a husband and wife enter into a prenuptial agreement that says: “wife agrees to waive all rights that she would otherwise be entitled to because of such marriage; and she waives any right to all property.” In this case, if the wife seeks alimony, the husband will have a problem if he tries to enforce the prenuptial agreement because it does not clearly state “no alimony,” although the prenup does clearly state a waiver of any right to property.

Break up photoxpress A common agreement in a prenuptial agreement is the amount of spousal support (i.e., in the event of divorce, wife gets $2,000/month alimony and medical insurance for life or until she remarries). In some states such as California, parties can even agree to a waiver of alimony, so in the event of divorce, no alimony will be paid.

Child Custody & Support Cannot Be Included in Prenup -- Ever

Sad child photoxpress Sad little girl photoxpress

One thing parties may not agree to in a prenuptial agreement is with regard to child support or child custody. Because the state has a strong interest in child welfare, the right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a prenuptial agreement and is therefore not allowed.

The Prenuptial Agreement Must Hold Up In Court - Read On!

Gavel and magnifier photoxpress

Signing a prenuptial agreement is only half of it. The other half is whether the agreement is valid. A prenuptial agreement is valid if it provides full disclosure; it is fair and reasonable; and was entered into voluntarily by both parties (no fraud, no duress). Sometimes however, courts will enforce a prenuptial agreement that may be unfair so long as there was full disclosure. Because things are NEVER black and white, it is so very important to use a lawyer to prepare your prenuptial agreement or you may find yourself fighting a losing battle in the gray areas. I also highly advise using a lawyer to review a prenuptial agreement if you have been asked to sign one.

Questions? Concerns?

For a Free Consultation please contact Attorney Lowell Steiger immediately at

(323) 852-1100


Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"  

*Since my law practice is based in California, I'm addressing California law.  Your state's laws may vary so please consult an attorney for clarification of your state's law as it applies to you!


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I recently came across your blog and have been reading about child custody agreement. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

This is a good overview of prenuptial agreements and an important read for anyone in the state of California. Signing a prenup is becoming more and more important as the divorce rate creeps above 50%.

A prenuptial accord is a contract between two people about to wed that spells out how assets will be distributed in the event of divorce or death. Such agreements have existed for thousands of years in some form or another, particularly in European and Far Eastern cultures, where royal families have always made provisions for protecting their wealth.

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