Pre-Nuptial, Post Nuptial, Marital Settlement & Domestic Partnership Agreements

Attorney, James Raetz, with the Law Offices of James T. Raetz, provides legal services for individuals and families in Southern California. As part of our family law practice, we help clients understand what marital and domestic partnership agreements can benefit them and prepare such agreements in accordance with California State law.

Pre-nuptial Agreement

When a couple becomes engaged to be married, divorce is the last thing on their minds. Unfortunately, statistics show that half of marriages end in divorce with second marriages at greater risk of dissolution than first marriages.

Preparation of a pre-nuptial agreement is like an insurance policy that protects you in the event of disaster. Often, couples bring considerably different financial circumstances to a marriage. Pre-nuptial (also known as pre-marital) agreements generally deal with the management of finances, careers and lifestyles during the marriage, and how assets and debts shall be divided in the unfortunate event of divorce or separation. Establishing expectations as to what is to occur helps avoid misunderstandings and complications during as well as after the marriage.

A Pre-nuptial agreement covers financial aspects such as which assets shall be considered community property, which assets shall be considered separate property, who will pay debts, how income shall be distributed, how accounts shall be held and managed, etc. It may also determine issues like how property division shall be handled in the event of divorce or separation or whether or not a spouse shall receive spousal support.

In the event of separation, divorce or death, a pre-nuptial agreement, if properly drafted and executed, takes precedence over state laws in defining how assets will be divided among the spouse, children and other family members. In order for a pre-marital agreement to be valid, the Parties must comply with all legal formalities required by law in the state where they are executed. Properly drafted pre-nuptial agreements are recognized as valid legal documents and upheld in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.

Post-nuptial Agreement

Post-nuptial agreements (also known as marital agreements) are like pre-marital agreements except they are executed during the Parties’ marriage. A variety of circumstances often alter a couple’s outlook on their marriage and future plans. A career change, debt, children, inheritances, fluctuations in investments, sales of property or business holdings may require that the Parties enter into a post-marital agreement. A post-marital agreement may also be executed to alter an existing pre-marital agreement.

While not all states recognize post-nuptial agreements as valid legal documents, the State of California upholds post-nuptial agreements that are drafted in strict accordance with the law. Full disclosure of assets, voluntary participation in the agreement and fairness are some aspects the court will look for in determining the validity of a post-nuptial agreement.

Domestic Partnership Agreement

Similar to marriage, California recognizes civil unions, called domestic partnerships, between couples of the same sex or couples of opposite sexes who are over 62 years of age.

After filing a Declaration of Domestic Partnership with the California Secretary of State, the partners have the same rights, protections and benefits as married couples. And like engaged or married couples, domestic partners may, prior to or after registration of a Declaration of Domestic Partnership, have their attorneys draw up agreements to establish parameters for managing assets, debts, property and business holdings.

It is essential to retain an experienced attorney to prepare your particular agreement and ensure that it fulfills strict legal requirements.

If you have questions about martial and domestic partnerships agreements, phone our office at (310) 292-3087 or (949) 623-8410 to arrange a consultation to obtain legal guidance on whether such an agreement is right for you.