Prenuptial agreements, also known as prenups, have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among high-net-worth individuals and those who wish to protect their assets before entering into marriage. In this blog post, we will discuss the why, what, and how of prenuptial agreements in the State of California, using the case of former professional baseball player Barry Bonds as a case study to illustrate the importance and potential pitfalls of such agreements.
Why Prenuptial Agreements?
In California, a prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract entered into by a couple before they get married, outlining how their assets will be divided in the event of divorce or separation.
There are several reasons why couples may choose to enter into a prenuptial agreement:
- Protecting individual assets: Prenups can help protect the assets and property that each party brings into the marriage, ensuring that they are not subject to division upon divorce.
- Clarifying financial expectations: A prenuptial agreement can help couples avoid disputes over finances during the marriage by clearly outlining each party’s financial rights and responsibilities.
- Streamlining divorce proceedings: Should a couple decide to divorce, a prenuptial agreement can help expedite the process by providing clear guidelines for asset division.
What Can Be Included in a California Prenuptial Agreement?
Under California law, prenuptial agreements can include provisions related to:
- Property rights: Including the right to buy, sell, lease, or transfer property, as well as any future income or appreciation of assets.
- Spousal support: Couples should agree on the amount, duration, and conditions of spousal support, if any, in the event of a divorce.
- Division of assets and debts: The agreement can specify how assets and debts will be divided upon divorce or separation.
- Management and control of property: Couples outline how they will manage and control their property during the marriage.
However, it is important to understand that prenuptial agreements cannot include provisions related to child custody, visitation, or child support, as these matters are determined by the court based on the best interests of the child.
The Barry Bonds Case Study
Barry Bonds, one of the most famous baseball players of all time, entered into a prenuptial agreement with his wife, Sun Bonds, in 1988. The agreement, which was signed one day before their wedding, stipulated that Sun would not be entitled to any of Barry’s earnings or assets acquired during the marriage. However, when the couple decided to divorce in 1994, Sun challenged the validity of the prenuptial agreement, claiming that it was signed under duress.
Ultimately, the California Supreme Court ruled that the agreement was valid and enforceable, despite the fact that it was signed just one day before the wedding. The court held that Sun had not proven that she signed the agreement under duress or that it was unconscionable.
How to Create a Valid Prenuptial Agreement in California
The Barry Bonds case highlights the importance of ensuring that a prenuptial agreement is valid and enforceable. To create a valid prenuptial agreement in
California, the following requirements must be met:
- The agreement is in writing and signed by both parties.
- Both parties must have had adequate time to review and consider the terms of the agreement before signing.
- Each party must fully disclose their assets, liabilities, and income.
- The agreement must be entered into voluntarily and not under duress, fraud, or undue influence.
- The terms of the agreement must not be unconscionable, meaning they cannot be excessively one-sided or unjust.
- Both parties should have independent legal representation, or at least have the opportunity to consult with separate attorneys before signing the agreement.
To ensure that your prenuptial agreement meets these requirements, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced family law attorney who is familiar with California law.
Prenuptial agreements can provide couples with peace of mind and financial security by establishing clear guidelines for asset division and financial expectations during their marriage. The case of Barry Bonds illustrates the importance of drafting a valid and enforceable prenuptial agreement to protect one’s assets in the event of a divorce.
In California, it is essential to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney who can help guide you through the process and ensure that your agreement is legally sound. By doing so, you can enter into your marriage with confidence, knowing that your financial future is secure.