Prenuptial agreements are not just for the rich and famous

Many California couples who are planning on getting married might feel that having a prenuptial agreement is not necessary because they don't have a significant amount of assets. However, such an agreement is not designed solely for those who are wealthy or famous.

In fact, they have become very popular in recent years, as a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers will attest. It found that more than 60% of the divorce lawyers who responded said that they had seen an increase in the number of their clients who were requesting one, many of whom were of modest means.

To be sure, people who come from wealthy families often want to have one, especially if they are pressured by their parents to do so as a means of protecting a future inheritance. While inherited money is usually considered to be separate property, it can become part of the marital estate if the funds are commingled and used, for example, as a down payment on a new house. Entrepreneurs might want to enter into a prenuptial agreement to protect their ownership of a new venture. Even if the business has little or no value now, it could become a success during the marriage. A prenuptial agreement can also protect a party's 401(k) or other retirement accounts, helping to ensure that it won't be divided as part of the divorce process.

Having a prenuptial agreement might significantly shorten the process of dividing marital property if these issues are agreed upon in advance. In order to preclude a future challenge, it is crucial that both parties have their own family law attorneys when they are negotiating it and that it is entered into well in advance of the wedding date.

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