Certified Family Law Specialist, State Bar of California, and Board of Legal Specialization

Divorce litigation can be time-consuming and expensive. Marital agreements can provide a couple with a way to resolve current or future marital issues in a mutually beneficial manner.

If you are currently married, or separating from your spouse, a marital agreement could address property division, spousal support, and other potential areas of dispute within a marriage. Entering a marital agreement with your spouse may reduce the unpredictability of going to court and make a divorce less contentious. A Ventura County marital agreements lawyer could discuss your options with you and determine what type of contract would best achieve your goals. Additionally, our knowledgeable family law attorneys could help you draft an agreement that is fair for both parties.

Spousal Responsibilities in a Marital Agreement

Marital agreements are legally binding contracts between spouses that set the terms of their property division and other marriage issues if the couple divorces. Under California Code, Family Code §721, parties may enter into contracts regarding property in the same manner as unmarried people.

Additionally, a married couple has a ‘confidential relationship’ that requires them to act in the ‘highest good faith and fair dealing’ with each other. Spouses must give each other full access to financial records and preserve any profits gained from transactions involving their community property. A lawyer in Ventura County could explain these ‘confidential relationship’ requirements when helping a couple draft a marital agreement.

Types of Marital Contracts in Ventura County

Marital agreements are legally binding contracts. Each has a specific purpose and must adhere to specific requirements when being drafted. There are various types of marriage agreements that a couple may enter based on their specific needs.

Prenups

California is a community property state, which means that each spouse will retain ownership of the property they brought into the marriage, and any assets they acquired during the marriage will be split equally upon divorce. If the couple may want to divide their property in a different manner, they could enter a prenuptial agreement or prenup before they marry to address the division of their marital assets and debts if they divorce. A prenup cannot address child custody or child support as a court must decide those issues at the time of the divorce.

Postnuptial Agreements

Like a prenuptial contract, a postnup covers the division of property and a couple’s liabilities in a divorce. Postnuptial agreements may also address spousal support. The primary difference between the two is that a postnup is signed after the parties marry. If a couple wants to control their property and set the terms of spousal support if their marriage ends, a marital agreements attorney in Ventura County could negotiate and draft a valid postnup on a spouse’s behalf.

Marital Settlement Agreement

Also known as a ‘marital termination agreement,’ spouses who are separating or dissolving their marriage may enter a marital settlement (MSA) to resolve issues relating to their children, spousal support, division of property, and debts.

Transmutation Agreement

Under California Code, Family Code §850, spouses can enter into a ‘transmutation’ agreement to:

  • Transmute community property to the separate property of either spouse
  • Convert the separate property of either spouse to community property
  • Convert the separate property of one spouse to the separate property of the other spouse

This agreement allows a couple to avoid a strict application of California’s community property laws and control how they manage their property in the event of a divorce. A lawyer could counsel a party on the benefits and limitations of a transmutation agreement.

Requirements for a Valid Marriage Agreement in Ventura County

Regardless of which marital agreement a couple uses, each document must meet the state’s contract law requirements. To be legally binding, the agreement must be:

  • In writing
  • Voluntarily entered by both parties
  • The result of complete and truthful financial disclosure of each party
  • Signed by both spouses and notarized

If a spouse forces or coerces the other to enter the agreement, or if the terms are extremely unfair to one spouse, a court could invalidate the contract. A lawyer in Ventura County could help a couple meet these legal requirements when drafting a marital contract.

Speak with a Ventura County Marital Agreements Attorney

No one marries intending to get divorced, but it sometimes happens as people change over time. Planning for this possibility may ease the tensions between spouses and provide an easier transition. A Ventura County marital agreements lawyer could advise you on the most beneficial contract for your situation and draft one according to state law. To get started on your agreement, call today.

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