FORESTER PURCELL STOWELL attorneys provide a reality check on prenuptial agreements (prenups) with answers to the question:


Aren’t prenups only for wealthy couples?


neil-foresterNEIL FORESTER

Whether an engaged couple realizes it or not, when they get married a whole new set of rules will apply to their relationship with or without a prenup. These rules are not obvious and probably won’t be relevant unless the marriage unravels and someone files for divorce. These rules are contained in the Family Code, and they will apply to every single married couple regardless of expectations, informal agreements made during the relationship, or promises made before the relationship went south. And these rules – regarding spousal support, financial obligations, parenting of children – can be punitive and arbitrary, and frequently cause one or both spouses great frustration. That’s understandable when the State Legislature gets to determine the future of your family. A prenup can prevent the State from making the rules. It vests the couple with the power to make their own rules about their finances, about their obligations to one another, about the direction they want their lives together (or apart) to take. Assuming that the premarital agreement doesn’t violate the rules governing them, the State of California will be pleased to allow the happy couple to make up its own rules. What could be more empowering – and romantic – than that?


matthew-purcellMATT PURCELL

Prenuptial agreements have a negative connotation in our society.  They are only for the wealthy, they only protect one person, etc.  In fact, what I hear most often is that a prenuptial agreement is “unromantic” because it is crafted with the end of the relationship in mind. What I tell people, on the occasion that I can discuss things with them before they get married, is that many just don’t understand the legal implications of entering into a marriage.  I ask them, “What are your legal obligations to your new spouse, during – and potentially after, marriage?  What are your financial obligations?”  It is the rare person who can give me complete, correct answers.  While it may be “unromantic” to some to consider the implications before getting married, perhaps if more people did enter into marriage with a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities, we would not see the divorce rate climb as it continues to do.  Even if people don’t know if they want or need a prenuptial agreement, having a pre-marital legal counseling session with a family law attorney before marriage can provide a lot of clarity.  After that, a prenuptial agreement is a tool used by informed parties to define for themselves what their rights and obligations to each other will be.  It doesn’t have to be about money.  The point of a prenuptial agreement is to tailor the standard legal considerations of a marriage to each individual couple.


Jenny Bain 220 x 220 Website 386JENNY BAIN

There is no one, special scenario, nor a certain amount of money one must have, for a prenup to be useful. Prenups are useful for any couple who, in the unlikely event of dissolution, want to eliminate uncertainty in how the divorce proceeds. The prenup can cover any breadth of detail, so even if the couple doesn’t have a “lot” of money or property at the time, they can dictate what happens to any future acquisitions. Or, as is common in second marriages or marriages in which both couples have children from previous relationships, people opt out of forming any community property relationship at all. Prenups are the most useful when two people first understand the legal implications of getting married so they can make informed decisions about deviating from those obligations.



Based in Folsom, California, the family law firm of Forester Purcell Stowell PC can be reached at or 916 293 4000. This information is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice.

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