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Marital contracts: often an effective yet misunderstood planning tool

Ice thrown on fire? Dimmer of romantic ardor? Marriage killer?

Some California readers of our blogs at the proven San Jose family law firm of Foster Hsu might reasonably guess what today's post spotlights based on the above descriptors.

If not, well, here it is: marital contracts, both prenuptial agreements and postnuptial contracts, respectively.

Those agreements automatically spur a knee-jerk reaction in some instances. We note on our website that marrying couples sometimes view a marital contract "as a plan for failure."

Increasingly, though, a prenuptial agreement (which we will mostly confine discussion to today) is being seen these days in a more balanced light that underscores its often strong utility as a marital planning tool.

For starters, a couple that even broaches the topic of a prenup is taking a timely and proactive step toward addressing financial matters that will undoubtedly emerge and grow in importance during married life.

In fact, prenuptial agreements are optimal legal instruments for setting forth in a clear and detailed way a couple's mutually agreed expectations concerning key issues across a potentially broad front. Prenups can protect or waive rights concerning broad-based subject matter in the event of marital separation or divorce, including but not limited to:

  • Disposition of a business
  • Treatment of property owned by one of the spouses prior to marriage
  • Treatment of property or assest gained during the marriage
  • Outcomes regarding children from a former marriage
  • Protection against one spouse's premarital debt

Those bullet-point notations provide just a snapshot of a marital contract's utility. Indeed, experienced family law attorneys with solid grounding in negotiating and drafting such agreements routinely help valued and diverse clients execute contracts that are seamlessly tailored to their unique circumstances.

A reasonable first step for any couple seeking relevant information about a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial contract is a candid and informative conversation with a knowledgeable and empathetic family law attorney.

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