Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…and a prenuptial agreement?
Is this the modern wedding checklist for couples these days? Yes, and no. According to family law attorney Patrick Baghdaserians of Schweitzer Law Partners, a prenuptial agreement (aka a prenup) is not necessarily for everyone. “If both parties are W2 employees, have no assets acquired previous to the union, and if the parties earn relatively the same amount of money, then just maybe a prenup may not be necessary,” says Baghdaserians. “However, I still would advise people to consider a prenuptial because of the unknown…people’s lives change when they get married and with that you may experience a change in career or life plan.”
Traditionally, prenuptial agreements address potential issues as it relates to support, property and property acquired during the marriage. So, for example, high earners who may want to limit spousal support if things were to go sour, then he/she may want to consider a prenup. Baghdaserians emphasizes that prenups are agreements that need to be planned in advanced, not only as courtesy to the partner whom you are asking to agree to the terms, but per California law, there’s a minimum 7-day waiting period that cannot be waived (unless both parties are represented by counsel (unless both parties are represented by counsel) .
Here are Baghdaserians’ tips when considering a prenuptial agreement:
1. Timing. We often hear dramatized stories of a husband presenting his wife-to-be with a prenup the night before their wedding. In reality, at least in the state of California, the family law code requires that there be at least 7 days between when the agreement is presented and when it is signed. But following family law code isn’t the only reason timing is important. Giving your significant other enough time to read, process and react to what you are proposing is important.
Additionally, he or she will need time to find a legal representative to make sure the terms are agreeable, which brings us to the next point.
2. Representation is key, not only for the person presenting the prenup but for the person receiving it. “I highly advise my clients who are seeking prenuptial agreements to encourage their fiancé to seek an experienced family law attorney to review the agreement we prepare,” says Baghdaserians. “In fact, in certain situations, I’ll advise my client to pay for the other party’s legal representation, I would even suggest that the other side hires a Certified Family Law specialist. In the long run, it will undoubtedly benefit the client. It may cost them several thousand dollars up front, but it removes ammunition for the other party down the road from claiming he or she was misinformed or didn’t understand the agreement because he or she didn’t have legal representation.”
3. Disclosure. Now is the time to disclose any and all assets and not keep your secret villa in the country under the radar. “Disclosing any and all assets is just as important as hiring qualified legal representation for your fiancé,” Baghdaserians said. “If it’s discovered that you neglected to include an asset during the divorce, your prenuptial agreement may be thrown out of court. Don’t give the other party reason to dispute the validity of the agreement.”
4. Coverage. Let’s set the record straight: It is against public policy and the law to include provisions regarding children in a prenuptial agreement, including child custody, visitation and child support. Prenuptial agreements are between the two adults, as it relates to spousal support and division or ownership of property and financial assets.
Finally, when looking at the human side of a prenuptial agreement, be considerate. “Give a little, take a little, but please don’t be greedy, “Baghdaserians says. “Imagine if the tables were turned and draft something that’s reasonable.” The bottom line is if an agreement at the time of enforcement is unconscionable, the court can choose not to follow it.
The Schweitzer Law Partners, 201 South Lake Avenue, Suite 800, Pasadena, (626) 683-8113 or visit our website.
This Article was published in PasadenaNow.com