Guide to Prenuptial Agreements in California

A prenuptial agreement is probably the furthest thing from your mind as you’re preparing for a romantic wedding celebration. However, divorce is always a looming possibility when you consider divorce rates, even for spouses who think their relationship is rock-solid and eternal. Signing a prenup is a smart move if you want to make sure you have some control over your rights and interests in a divorce – as opposed to having California law step in to make a determination on important areas of your life. But before you take the leap, talk to an experienced California prenuptial agreements attorney and review some of the basics on how they work.

Requirements for Enforceability


The state statute and general principles of contract law cover prenuptial agreements in California. Some of the general requirements to make a prenup enforceable include:

  • Both parties must consent to the arrangement, and have proper mental capacity to understand the terms of the contract and enter it willingly;
  • The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties;
  • Each party must have received complete information about the other person’s property, income, and debts before signing;
  • Each party must have a minimum of seven days to review the prenuptial agreement after receiving it; and,
  • Future spouses must be represented by a separate attorney when signing a prenup, except where:
    • The party received written explanation about the terms and legal impact of the agreement; and,
    • That spouse signed a separate acknowledgment regarding the written explanation and expressly waived the right to a lawyer.

Factors to Consider in a California Prenuptial Agreement


Generally, your prenup should include provisions on the present and future rights to real estate and personal property, and how it will be divided in the event of a divorce. With assets of high value, it’s best to use an itemized list that’s as specific as possible with descriptions.

Note that a prenuptial agreement cannot negatively impact child support, custody, and visitation after the dissolution of marriage. Plus, this type of contract cannot take away a party’s right to spousal support, otherwise known as alimony, if that person was not represented by an attorney when signing. This rule applies regardless of whether the party received a written explanation and signed a separate acknowledgment as described above.

Talk to a Skilled Attorney About a California Prenuptial Agreement

For more information on prenups, please contact the Law Office of Charles D. Stark. Our firm helps clients in Santa Rosa, CA and throughout Sonoma County, and we can assist with prenuptial agreement drafting, review, and representation.

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