In California, a prenuptial agreement, officially called a premarital agreement, deals primarily with the property rights of a couple about to marry.
While many terms are similar to those in the prenups of other states, certain rules for creating the California agreement are more narrowly defined.
Creating the agreement
With the help of separate attorneys, engaged couples can sign a premarital agreement that will become effective as soon as they marry. Before signing, each must provide complete financial information to the other. There must be no coercion and the parties must have at least seven days to review the agreement before signing.
Making the contents valid
A premarital agreement normally addresses the rights of the parties to both community and separate property. Rights might include who controls the property and how the parties should dispose of it if they decide to divorce. In California, this kind of agreement cannot address anything to do with children or child custody nor to housekeeping matters such as which spouse should take responsibility for washing dishes or mowing the grass. As long as the terms do not violate the law or infringe upon public policy, the court will consider the premarital agreement a valid document.
Using the agreement in divorce
The spotlight focuses on a premarital agreement if the parties who created it decide to divorce. At this point, ownership rights come to the fore during property division. While the process involves settling assets and debts, the task of dividing community property usually runs more smoothly when a premarital agreement exists.