Q: Is a prenuptial agreement lawful in California, and what subject matters may be covered in such an agreement?
A: A prenuptial agreement is a contract between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage which becomes effective upon marriage. Prenuptial agreements are permitted and governed by Sections1600 et seq. of the California Family Code, which is known as the “Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.”
Subjects That May Be Included in A Prenuptial Agreement:
A prenuptial agreement is a powerful tool that can accomplish many objectives that are important to most couples. Under section 1612(a) of the Family Code, the following subjects may be addressed in a prenuptial agreement:
• The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located.
• The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property.
• The disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event.
• The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement.
• The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy.
• The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement.
• Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.
Subjects That May Not Be Included in A Prenuptial Agreement:
There are several legal rights and obligations imposed under the Family Code that may not be altered by a prenuptial agreement. In particular, Section 1612(b) of the Family Code provides that a prenuptial agreement may not alter the requirements of child support. Moreover, provisions in a prenuptial agreement may not violate public policy or promote divorce.
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