A postnuptial agreement is relatively uncommon among married couples, but it can be a valuable way of defining legal rights in an established relationship. Los Angeles family law attorney Charles M. Green helps clients with the process of negotiating and preparing these agreements.
Postnuptial agreements define how the couple will handle debt, assets, future spousal support obligations, property division, and other concerns. Mr. Green’s expertise and experience assists couples in determining these issues and ensure that their decisions are legally sound.
Los Angeles couples are likely familiar with prenuptial agreements, or agreements entered into before the marriage. A postnuptial agreement works similarly, only it takes place after the wedding vows.
Without this type of agreement, the family code of law in California will control what happens to your assets in the event of a divorce. A postnuptual agreement lets you create a plan that suits your needs and set out your expectations in writing.
Postnuptial agreements differ from prenuptials in one important way. Because you and your spouse are married, you are held to certain fiduciary and confidential responsibilities. Each of you has the “duty of highest good faith and fair dealing.” In other words, neither spouse can take unfair advantage of the other.
Because of these factors, postnuptial agreements are more difficult to enforce than prenuptial agreements. Even if the above factors are met, someone who signed a postnuptial agreement may challenge it, claiming that he / she was coerced into signing it upon threat of divorce. Courts take these accusations seriously.
One common example of a postnuptial agreement is a “transmutation.” In this document, the spouses agree to change the character of a property from community to separate or separate to community.
For instance, if a husband owned a house before marriage, this property is generally considered separate from the marriage. After he and his spouse marry, he may want to make the house a community asset: owned jointly by he and the spouse. This is called a transmutation agreement.
While a transmutation agreement can be a useful means for transferring property, there are very specific and rigid obligations surrounding them. If they are not met, a court may set the agreement aside.
Because of the specificity required in postnuptial agreements and because of the opportunity for challenges at a later date, it’s important to work with a knowledgeable Los Angeles attorney to help you and your spouse in creating the document.
The Law Offices of Charles M. Green can guide you through the process, counsel you as to issues you should anticipate and avoid, and help you to establish a more effective contract. We encourage you to get in touch with us today.