When most people hear about prenuptial agreements, they tend to think of Hollywood power couples or aging billionaires marrying young models. You do not need to be rich or famous to have a prenuptial agreement, and it is a good idea to have one if you bring assets into a marriage that you do not want to mingle with the marital estate. A prenuptial agreement can help to protect your personal assets in the event of a divorce, and it is something both spouses should consider utilizing.
State laws tend to override contracts, but that is usually at the discretion of the courts. The important aspect of any prenuptial agreement is to get it set up by an experienced attorney who knows what the courts will and will not accept. As long as both parties agree to the prenuptial agreement, then it will normally stand up in any family court.
No one gets married with the thought of someday getting divorced, but things happen and lives change. If you enter into a relationship with heirlooms or even financial accounts that are important to your family, you will want to keep those separate after a divorce. The problem is that grandma's handmade quilt can sometimes get mixed in with marital property and lost. A prenuptial agreement will help to keep your personal family items separate and make sure that they do not get lost in the confusion of a divorce.
For people who are marrying for a second or third time, there are always concerns about decisions made on behalf of parents. The husband entering a second marriage may prefer that his first-born son be the one who makes any determinations about the husband's health or care needs. A health proxy and power of attorney can help to make these arrangements, but some courts might find that the children of the second marriage have a say as well. A prenuptial agreement helps to protect the status of children from previous relationships and preserves the legal relationship between a parent and their child.
If a couple prefers to wait until after the wedding to enter in a post-nuptial agreement, then that is possible. But many states, including California, often disregard post-nuptial agreements because of the possibility of misrepresentation. A spouse might want to represent that they have part ownership in their spouse's business when, in fact, that is not the case. A post-nuptial agreement is often less stable than a prenuptial agreement, which is why the prenuptial agreement is preferred.
The idea of a prenuptial agreement is uncomfortable for some people because they feel it represents a lack of trust in the marriage before it even gets started. The truth is that a prenuptial agreement simply protects the personal assets of both spouses prior to the marriage and allows the couple to focus on their life together.