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What Cannot Be Put Into a Prenuptial Agreement?

Posted on February 15th, 2023

A prenuptial agreement, popularly known as a prenup, is a legal contract signed by two people who are planning to get married and is effective upon marriage. This agreement outlines the assets and debts each partner has before the union and the rights and responsibilities of each spouse in the event of a divorce or death. The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) governs prenuptial agreements in California. Prenups have become a popular tool for protecting assets, clarifying financial responsibilities, and reducing the likelihood of conflict in a divorce.

Certain things cannot be put into a prenuptial agreement in California. Therefore, understanding what is off-limits in a premarital agreement is essential for couples considering creating one before marriage.

The child support amount that one spouse has to pay to the other in the event of a divorce cannot be agreed upon in the premarital agreement. This is because the court determines the amount of child support depending on the best interests of a child. However, if the couple has children together before the marriage, a prenup can dictate certain financial aspects regarding the children.

Child Custody

Like child support, a prenuptial agreement cannot determine the allocation of custody and visitation rights. The court will determine the best arrangement for the children based on their best interests at that time, and the terms outlined in the prenuptial agreement cannot override this.

Provisions Encouraging Divorce

A prenup cannot include provisions offering a financial incentive for divorce. If judges find provisions encouraging divorce, such as awards of valuable gifts or properties, they will void it. Courts view any provisions describing how the property would be divided as encouraging divorce because society has an interest in disincentivizing divorce.

Non-Financial Provisions

Provisions that address personal preferences instead of financial matters may get dismissed by the court. Such personal preferences that the court may throw out in a prenup can include where to spend family vacations, chores for each spouse, the preferred weight of a spouse, relationships to have with relatives, or details about the upbringing of children. Premarital agreements are designed to address financial issues and not private domestic matters.

Confidential Information

A prenuptial agreement cannot include confidential information such as one’s medical records, trade secrets, or information they would prefer to be kept private. Personal information leakage can have serious consequences, so it is vital to protect such information.

Vague or Unreasonable Terms

Terms outlined in a prenup must be reasonable and unambiguous, and those that are vague or unreasonable may be considered unenforceable by the court. For example, a clause that seeks to punish an unfaithful spouse by denying them spousal support in divorce is usually unenforceable.

Violations of the Law or Public Policy

California law prohibits including provisions that violate public policy or are illegal in a premarital agreement. A court may not authorize a prenup if any terms encourage a spouse’s illegal activities. The courts can also invalidate a prenuptial agreement that attempts to enforce moral or religious standards on a spouse.

Waiver of Right to Alimony

Any clauses that waive a spouse’s rights under California’s community property laws or relinquish alimony are prohibited. Although some terms regarding alimony are enforceable, the courts generally do not allow anything that waives a party’s right to seek alimony in a divorce or separation since this would be unfair to that party.

So, What Can You Put Into a Prenup in California?

In California, several things can be put into a prenuptial agreement, including:

  • Alimony
  • Business interests
  • Division of property
  • Family inheritance
  • Marital obligations
  • Other terms that the couple wishes to include

Couples need to understand the limitations of a prenup before signing one. It is also essential to have an experienced attorney review the prenuptial agreement to ensure that it complies with California law and does not include any unenforceable provisions.

Contact Our Experienced Los Angeles Prenuptial Agreement Attorney Today

If you are contemplating a prenuptial agreement in California, it is crucial to have the guidance and support of an attorney. The experienced prenuptial agreement attorney in Los Angeles at the Harris Family Law Group can help you review your prenuptial agreement to ensure nothing is left to chance. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and protect your rights and assets.