Many California couples are heading for marriage at a more advanced age than in the past. This means that both parties are often coming to the marriage with established careers, significant assets, investment funds or even self-owned businesses. While couples planning for marriage seldom like to consider planning for divorce at the same time, a prenuptial agreement can be an important step for two-career couples with significant assets and liabilities among them.

In such cases, a prenuptial agreement can actually help to introduce greater stability and comfort into the forthcoming marriage as both parties know their assets and interests are protected without it remaining an open question for the future. This can also be the case when one party in the marriage anticipates a significant inheritance, including family properties or family businesses that are expected to remain within the family and not become subject to potential division in a future divorce.

When preparing for a prenuptial agreement, it is important to meet all of the requirements of state law. Such agreements that do not adhere to legal requirements could later be thrown out in court, re-introducing all of the uncertainty they were designed to prevent. In the first place, prenuptial agreements must be written. A verbal agreement is not sufficient.

Further, both parties to a prenuptial agreement must have their own legal counsel and must fully disclose their assets and liabilities. Without a full accounting and disclosure, the agreement itself will be held invalid. In addition, the prenuptial agreement should not be a last-minute condition. Agreements signed less than 30 days before marriage could be discarded by the courts.

A prenuptial agreement doesn’t need to be an adversarial process. While it’s important for both future spouses to have their own family law attorney, the process itself could take place in a collaborative law or mediation environment that views both spouses as on the same side seeking a common goal.