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Requirements for California prenuptial agreements

As is the case in other states, Orange County, California, couples are allowed under California law to enter in to prenuptial agreements. Not only can these types of agreements head off divorce problems down the road, they can also help even happily married couples who may have children from a prior relationship or who just want additional clarity about what happens when either they or their spouse dies.

Although the best course of action is to have an experienced family law attorney help with the drafting of a prenuptial agreement, there are a few guiding principles in California law that are helpful for couples to keep in mind. After all, not adhering to these basic principles could mean that a couple's prenuptial agreement winds up getting voided by a court hearing a later dispute.

The technical requirements of a California prenuptial agreement are that it be in writing and signed by both soon-to-be spouses. Both parties must have received all the information available about each other's finances, and they must each have at least a week to review the agreement before having to sign it. Moreover, each spouse must either have his or her own attorney review the agreement, although there are ways for a person who does not want to hire his or her own attorney to proceed.

Even if these requirements are satisfied, a court will not enforce the agreement if it is decidedly lopsided in favor of one of the parties, to the point of being rightly called "unfair." Moreover, both parties have to sign the agreement with full knowledge of the agreement's terms and without any undue pressure or coercion.

Finally, even if it is otherwise a valid agreement, it is important to remember that couples cannot make permanent bargains about children, including agreements pertaining to child custody, parenting time, or support. Such agreements will not be enforced.

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