As the average age of marriage increases in the United States, more couples than ever before are opting for prenuptial agreements. These legal documents are especially important if you own a business or have accrued significant assets in your single days. Prenups also make sense for those entering a second or subsequent marriage.
If you and your partner are considering a prenuptial agreement, these are some of the factors to discuss:
Separate and community property
California is a community property state, which means that most assets earned by either person during the marriage belongs to both spouses. Although exceptions exist, without a prenuptial agreement, your partner will receive half of your retirement accounts, business, real estate equity and other property that you acquire during the marriage. A prenuptial agreement allows you and your spouse to determine a division that works best for the both of you rather than leave this decision to the courts.
If one spouse earns significantly more money than the other, a prenuptial agreement can provide for spousal support in the event of divorce. This is especially important when the spouse who earns less has contributed in other ways, such as raising the children, running the household and supporting the other person’s education and career. California law permits provisions regarding spousal support as long as the judge deems the terms fair.
Student loan debt
When either or both individuals anticipate significant student loan debt being accumulated during the marriage, having a prenuptial agreement can designate this debt as separate property. That will prevent you from becoming responsible for a portion of your partner’s debt in a divorce (or vice versa).
If you are already married but you and your spouse want to establish this type of agreement, you can instead create a postnuptial agreement. Make sure to abide by California laws to ensure that your document is valid. For example, the state does not accept provisions about child custody and child support in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.