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Divorce: What does a seat belt and a prenup have in common?

A prenuptial agreement is like a seat belt. Some California people may automatically put on their seat belts when they get in a vehicle because it will protect them in the event of an accident. A prenup protects both parties in the event of a divorce. It allows couples to determine how their assets and debts must be split in a divorce rather than relying on a judge and the state's divorce laws.

Having to prove which assets were accumulated before and during the marriage and which ones belong to whom can be a challenge, and a prenuptial agreement can cover all of these bases and more. No one wants to be held responsible for an ex-spouse's debt after a divorce. Including payment responsibilities in a marriage contract can avoid a court battle over debt payments. However, creditors are not interested in such agreements; they will come after the person or people who signed or co-signed for the loan.

If there is an expected inheritance, a prenuptial agreement can specify whose personal property such funds will be in the event of a divorce. If this is not determined, the inheritance could become community property the moment it is commingled. If, for example, a small portion of the inheritance is used to repair the family home's roof, the court may determine the inheritance to be commingled, and it will be subject to property division.

When one party accumulates assets during the marriage and wants to include it in a marriage agreement, the answer could be to draft a postnuptial agreement. However, it might be wise to consult with an experienced divorce attorney for support and guidance. A lawyer can explain the community property laws of California that govern property division in divorces. An attorney can assess the unique circumstances of the client and suggest the most appropriate way in which to deal with it to ensure protection.

Source:, "What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?", Cathy Meyer, Accessed on Feb. 17, 2018

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