A premarital agreement, or prenup, is a binding contract that two individuals sign prior to getting married. It contains the parameters of the financial and property agreement of the couple in case of a divorce or separation. Premarital agreements have grown more popular in recent years, especially among those getting married for the second time or those who want to protect their major assets or wealth.
Premarital agreements may be changed after they are signed, but specific legal requirements must be followed. The particular guidelines for changing a premarital agreement are determined by the provisions of the agreement itself, the jurisdiction in which it was signed, and other factors. In general, any amendments to the prenup must be approved by both parties and must be in writing, with both signatures.
The Legal Basis for Changing a Premarital Agreement
State laws outline the procedures for amending prenuptial agreements, and the particular requirements may change depending on where the contract was signed.
Before any amendments to the prenup can be made, both parties must consent. In other words, if one side wants to change the agreement, they can’t do it all by themselves. Instead, an agreement on the proposed adjustments must be reached by both parties, which must then be documented in writing and signed by both sides.
Second, any changes to the prenup must be made in conformity with the rules established by law for a binding prenup. For instance, the agreement must have been freely executed and fully disclose the financial circumstances of both parties. The original premarital agreement may be void and any later amendments to it may not be enforceable if there was any evidence of coercion, duress, or fraud during the signing process.
Lastly, any prenuptial agreement adjustments must not be unreasonable. In other words, the modifications must be fair and reasonable and not unfairly biased against one party. A court might not be able to enforce the adjustments if it determines that they are unconscionable.
The timing of prenuptial adjustments is subject to special restrictions in different states. For instance, whereas some states mandate that any premarital agreement adjustments be made before the marriage, others permit them to be amended after the marriage. To find out the precise guidelines that apply to changing prenups in your state, it is vital to speak with a lawyer in your jurisdiction.
Causes to Change a Prenup
A couple might decide to change their prenuptial agreement for a number of reasons. Changes in financial circumstances, professional objectives, family relationships, and goals and priorities are among the most frequent causes. Typical justifications include:
Changes To the Relationship
The parties may desire to alter the premarital agreement if their relationship undergoes a significant change. One party might desire to change the prenuptial agreement to cover the other’s care, for instance, if the other party becomes ill or disabled.
Changes to Financial Situations
A prenuptial agreement modification is frequently required when there is a change in the parties’ financial situation. The premarital agreement might need to be changed, for instance, if one spouse inherits a substantial sum of money or assets. Alternatively, the prenuptial agreement may need to be changed if one spouse loses their job or sees a large decrease in income.
Changes in Careers
Changes in jobs are another frequent reason for prenuptial agreement modifications. A prenuptial agreement might need to be changed to account for future income loss, for instance, if one spouse decides to leave employment to launch a business or further their studies. Or, if one spouse obtains a job offer in a different state or nation, they could want to change the prenup to account for the anticipated move.
Family Dynamics Have Changed
Modifying a premarital agreement may also be necessary due to alterations in family dynamics. One spouse could seek to change the prenuptial agreement to reflect the additional financial obligations if, for instance, they are now responsible for caring for a child or an elderly parent. Alternatively, if one spouse decides to stay at home with the children, they may wish to change the prenuptial agreement to make sure they are protected financially in the event of a divorce.
Premarital agreements are designed to be thorough and legally enforceable, but they are not set in stone and can be changed if both parties agree. If a couple decides to alter their prenuptial agreement, they should seek legal counsel to be sure the changes are appropriate and in their best interests.
Changing a prenuptial agreement may have some tax repercussions, so bear that in mind as well. For instance, if the alteration changes how assets or income are divided, it may have an impact on one or both partners’ tax obligations. As a result, it’s crucial to speak with a family lawyer and tax expert before making any changes to a prenuptial agreement.
The preparation, negotiation, drafting, and enforcement of premarital agreements are different in each state. If you have any questions about the California Premarital Agreement Act, please contact our office.