Many California couples who are contemplating marriage likely still have the belief that prenuptial agreements are only for celebrities and the extremely wealthy. While prenups have a historical reputation as protecting couples with significant assets, far more people are now considering one. In fact, a 2013 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey found that more than 60 percent of the divorce lawyers who responded indicated that they had seen an increase in prenups. The increase follows the recession and includes younger people who are marrying for the first time without significant assets.
At their most basic, prenuptial agreements give couples control over which assets are eligible for division should their prospective marriage end in a divorce. They can be as simple as a document stating that each party is entitled to keep the property they had before entering into the marriage. Laws regarding prenuptial agreements vary among states, but it is necessary to allow sufficient time before the wedding in order to avoid one of the parties saying that they were forced to sign it under duress.
Many people avoid discussing the possibility of a prenuptial agreement due to a fear of awkwardness, but many family law experts believe that prenups can actually help a relationship. They also warn that not talking about financial issues is a significant mistake to make and can harm the resulting marriage.
The division of property is often a very contentious part of a divorce. Having a valid prenuptial agreement in place can often reduce some of the conflict. It is important that, when couples are considering one, each party have separate legal representation in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest.