How To Get A Prenup in California

Getting a prenup in California doesn't have to be complicated or stressful! With the right knowledge and guidance you can protect your assets and start your happily ever after on the right foot. 


So, you've found the one, and wedding bells are ringing in the near future. Congratulations! 

But before you say "I do," you might want to consider protecting your assets with a prenuptial agreement. As Elizabeth R. Carter, law professor at Louisiana State University and advisor to First, asserts in her 2016 research paper on prenuptial agreements: “Everyone that’s getting married should have a prenup.”

Not sure where to start? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Here's your guide to getting a prenup in the Golden State.

  1. Understand What a Prenup Is: Let's start with the basics. A prenuptial agreement, or prenup for short, is a legal document that outlines how assets and debts will be divided in the event of a divorce or separation. It's like an insurance policy for your finances, providing peace of mind and clarity for both parties.
  2. Know What You Can Include: In California, prenups can cover a wide range of financial matters, including property division, spousal support (alimony), and even provisions for pets! However, child custody and support cannot be addressed in a prenup, as these issues are determined by the court based on the child's best interests at the time of divorce.
  3. Start Early: Timing is key when it comes to prenups. It's best to broach the subject well in advance of the wedding, preferably several months before the big day. This allows both parties enough time to fully understand the agreement and seek legal advice if needed. California’s seven-day rule requires no less than seven calendar days between the final prenup being presented and the time the agreement is signed.
  4. Full Disclosure: Transparency is essential when drafting a prenup. Both parties must fully disclose all of their assets, debts, and income. Failure to do so could render the agreement invalid in court.
  5. Consult with a Lawyer: While you can technically draft a prenup on your own, it's highly recommended to seek legal counsel. A qualified attorney can ensure that the agreement is fair, enforceable, and compliant with California law. Plus, having a lawyer involved adds an extra layer of protection and peace of mind, and with certain decisions made in a prenup, you absolutely need to have a lawyer to ensure enforceability.
  6. Review and Revise: Life changes, and so can your prenup. It's a good idea to review the agreement periodically, especially after major life events such as the birth of a child or a significant change in financial circumstances. If necessary, you can always amend the prenup via a postnuptial agreement.
  7. Execute Correctly: In California, once you’ve allowed time for the seven-day rule noted above, both parties must execute the prenup. In California, prenups must be in writing and signed by both parties. Some couples choose to do so in the presence of a notary public to provide additional protection. Then, each party should retain a copy of the agreement for their records.
  8. Consider the Future: While nobody enters a marriage planning for divorce, having a prenup in place can provide peace of mind and financial security for both parties. It's an investment in your future together, ensuring that you're both protected no matter what life throws your way. 

Drafting a prenup can help you reclaim your own power from the vicissitudes of state law – without one, Professor Carter notes “you’re assuming that your state legislature has the best rule for what happens to you at either death or divorce, because all marriages end in one of those ways.” 

But getting a prenup in California doesn't have to be complicated or stressful! With the right knowledge and guidance – and a prenup partner in First – you can protect your assets and start your happily ever after on the right foot.