Divorce in California is notorious for being emotionally and financially challenging; however, it does not always have to be. Even complex divorces, like those involving children, complex or high assets, and highly contested disputes, can be greatly simplified if there is a prenuptial agreement.
Because California has a thriving tech industry, as well as success in the defense and agricultural industries, there are thousands of Californians who have been able to amass great wealth. Therefore, while it can be uncomfortable to arrange a prenuptial agreement before saying “I do,” it can save everyone headaches and money down the line in the case of divorce so that large and complex fortunes do not have to be under long and excruciating divorce disputes.
California High Net Worth Divorces
A high net worth divorce in California can be lengthy, as it will require the valuation of all community property that must be divided. California follows community property laws, meaning that all property that is accumulated during the marriage and is not separate – such as gifts or inheritance – is subject to being divided 50/50 by each spouse. Community property that can be subject to division during a divorce includes:
- Commercial and residential property
- Retirement accounts
- Intellectual property, such as patents
As it is common for California entrepreneurs to run businesses as a married couple, this can add additional complexity to the divorce process, as valuing a business and determining how much money it could generate in the future is challenging.
Additionally, the quality of life that was upheld during the marriage will also play a role in determining factors of the divorce settlement. For example, if the high asset marriage had high lifestyle standards, then the expected spousal support payments will likely be high as well if there is a large difference in net income between the divorcing spouses.
Prenuptial Agreements and High Asset Divorces
Prenuptial agreements that are signed by each spouse going into a marriage can lay out the terms for how property will be divided and how support will be distributed in case of divorce. Any terms of the divorce that are not detailed in the prenup will be subject to regular protocol under California Family Code. Therefore, a prenuptial agreement can help provide clarity, streamlining the divorce process so that assets are divided quickly and without dispute.
It’s important to note, however, that a prenuptial agreement cannot always help avoid disputes in a divorce. For example, it is possible for a divorcing spouse to contest the enforceability of all or parts of the premarital or prenuptial agreement in court. Reasons that a prenup may be considered not to be valid or enforceable include:
- A spouse did not adequately report all of their financial information.
- The waiting period for signing was not respected, and therefore, the agreement was rushed.
- False information was given at the start of the marriage, so the agreement is considered to be invalid.
- A spouse was put under pressure or was coerced into signing the prenuptial documents.
If you are dealing with matters related to contesting prenuptial agreements, an experienced divorce lawyer can help you navigate the situation. In order to avoid prenuptials being contested, it’s also important to work with a legal professional who has experience writing such documents and can help ensure that the document is properly written out and that all critical matters are soundly agreed upon.
Q: Do Marriage Assets Have To Be Split 50-50 If There Is A Prenup?
A: In California, all assets that are considered to have been acquired during the marriage are community property, and this is subject to being split 50/50 for each spouse involved. However, during a prenup, a couple can agree to keep all property acquired during the marriage adequately split so that it is not community property and, therefore, not subject to split during divorce.
Q: Does Cheating Affect How Much Alimony I Will Need To Pay?
A: In California, whether or not a divorcing spouse was adulterous is not a factor that will be taken into consideration at all in the courtroom when the decision is handed down regarding the amount of alimony one will need to pay. The factors that the courts will consider include how long the marriage lasted, the amount of money that each spouse earned, and the quality of life during the marriage. An experienced divorce lawyer can help an individual understand how much money they can expect to pay or receive in spousal support.
Q: Are All Premarital Assets Protected in A CA Divorce?
A: Typically, assets that were owned by an individual before marriage are considered to be separate property and are, therefore, not subject to division. However, separate assets that become somehow mixed with community property may then transform and be subject to division during divorce. For example, if a house that was owned as separate property before the marriage became the family home, and community assets were used to renovate or upgrade the home, then this home could be considered community property upon divorce.
Q: Can I Not Pay Alimony If I Signed A Prenup?
A: A prenuptial agreement in California can help define which property accumulated during the marriage stays separate so that it will not be subject to division during divorce in the case of separation. However, if the courts rule that you must pay spousal support to your ex-spouse or partner, then you will be required under the law to make those payments. A strong family lawyer can advise you on whether or not you will need to pay alimony.
Planning Your California Marriage and Divorce
It may seem strange, but good marriage planning means also planning for the event of divorce, especially if the stakes are high. While it is obviously not expected that two spouses getting married will ever get divorced, planning for such an occurrence can help protect the emotional and financial well-being of all the parties involved. Contact Khalaf Law Group to learn about how you can secure the future and security of you and your spouse.