California Prenups are Smart Business Moves

While no one wants to think of a marriage as a business, it often is just that. The partners work together to run it by agreement.

One of the more controversial areas of California divorce law centers on whether or not to have a prenuptial agreement. Many feel it’s not exactly the epitome of being amorous. And frankly, it really isn’t all that romantic, but it’s necessary in case something happens later. Not being protected can be a major disaster to the spouse who happens to have less money and/or assets than the other. It’s not that a prenup is intentionally a power play involving finances, but some cases turn out that way when the marriage comes apart. California is a community property state, so everything is split 50/50 unless a prenup says otherwise.

Prenuptials are not just for the wealthy, although you’d wonder about that reading the newspapers and watching television. Mostly, it seems, that only celebrities opt to have a prenup. In reality, they are for everyone and anyone who wants one. There’s a very common myth floating around that a couple doesn’t need to go this route if they don’t have much money between them. This is not the case.

Virtually anything and everything can be the focus of a prenuptial agreement. Getting around the “not so romantic” stigma associated with them often works if the couple just has a very frank and wide-ranging discussion about how each of them handles finances before they get married. Finding out later that the husband spends thousands on sports equipment, while the wife thinks the money should be set aside for the children’s education, is not exactly conducive to a happy, well-balanced marriage. The bottom line is if you don’t want surprises later, get things out in the open now, because no one knows what will happen.

What if one of the spouses comes into more money in the future, as a result of their business or a talent they have? If you know how to handle the division of community property in advance of any possible divorce, you’ll be well ahead of the game and won’t necessarily have to face the bitter acrimony that sometimes accompanies divorces without a prenup in place. If you don’t know how to go about setting that kind of agreement up, contact an experienced attorney.

This brings up another very common belief, that prenuptials really only protect the partner with the most money and take it away from the partner that doesn’t have much. The reality is that prenuptial agreements are designed to protect both parties.

It should also be noted that just about anything can be written into a prenup, but that doesn’t mean that everything and the kitchen sink must be included in the agreement. These agreements can either be incredibly complex or strikingly simple. It’s up to the parties to decide what they want.

By the way, living together without the benefit of a marriage license is not the way to get around not having a prenuptial. Some couples think if they just live together, the live-in has no claim to the other’s property or income. Wrong. The person making the money and with the assets could be taking a huge risk just living together. It’s called palimony. If you want to protect what you’ve got, get a prenup drafted and signed.

Anthony Spotora is a Los Angeles family lawyer and Los Angeles business attorney. To learn more, visit

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 at 7:58 am and is filed under Business & Corporate Law, California Law, Contract Law, Family Law, Real Property Law. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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