Entering into a prenuptial agreement may be a particularly prudent step to take in states with community property laws like California. These laws require judges to divide marital property equally no matter how long a couple was married. A prenuptial agreement allows spouses to decide for themselves how their assets and income will be treated should they decide to divorce. The frank and open negotiations that take place prior to these documents being signed can build trust and put hidden anxieties to rest.
The popular media often portrays prenuptial agreements as the exclusive purview of the wealthy. However, there are situations when even those of more modest means would be wise to consider entering into a prenup. Divorce negotiations can become highly contentious when blended families are involved, but addressing matters like asset distribution and spousal support prior to getting married could protect families by preventing protracted and bitter legal disputes. Entering into a prenuptial agreement can also thwart the plans of those who marry purely for financial gain.
Prenuptial agreements are also popular among entrepreneurs. Losing control of a business could place the futures of both shareholders and employees in jeopardy, and business owners may agree to generous concessions during prenuptial agreement negotiations to prevent this from happening. Having such agreements in place can also prevent assets with high sentimental value from being used to provide emotional leverage during property division talks.
Prenuptial agreements are of little use if they are unable to withstand judicial scrutiny. A family law attorney may recommend that the terms of a prenuptial agreement be basically fair and urge a client to be candid during negotiations and reveal all of their assets and sources of income.