An In-Depth Guide to Writing a Postnuptial Agreement in California

Standardized Legal Documents An In-Depth Guide to Writing a Postnuptial Agreement in California

How To Write a Postnuptial Agreement in California the Right Way

Do you and your spouse wish to outline asset ownership details in case of divorce? If you entered the marriage without a prenup, signing a postnuptial agreement is the best solution. Writing a postnup can be a challenge since there are various state rules and regulations you need to consider. In this guide, you’ll find out more about postnups and learn how to create a postnuptial agreement in California correctly. 

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What Is a Postnuptial Agreement?

A postnuptial agreement—also known as a postnup and post-marital agreement—is a legal contract signed between spouses or civil union partners. As opposed to a prenup that’s created before the marriage, a postnup is signed when a couple is already married. The main purpose of a postnup is to outline how the assets will be divided in case of divorce or the death of one spouse. 


When Should You Consider Signing a Postnup?

While postnups are usually signed when a couple is thinking about getting a divorce, that’s not always the case. You can draw up a postnuptial agreement if you and your spouse want to:

  • Specify your wishes for the property you brought into your marriage 
  • Protect children’s inheritances 
  • Make sure you’re not responsible for the other person’s debts
  • Protect your business assets 

You should also consider signing a postnup if you or your partner get an inheritance, win a lottery, and similar. Another situation where a postnuptial agreement can be useful is if one of the spouses stops working to be a stay-at-home parent. The agreement will ensure that the party in question has enough financial resources if the marriage ends. 

What Makes a Postnup Valid in California?

Your agreement won’t be valid automatically. For a postnup to be legally enforceable in the State of California, certain requirements have to be met:

  1. The agreement has to be in writing
  2. Both parties must sign the agreement willingly (you should consider getting your document notarized)
  3. Spouses have to disclose all their debts, assets, and income
  4. The contract needs to ensure a fair division of assets
  5. You need to file your postnuptial agreement with the family court, and the judge has to accept it

Which Info Should Your Postnuptial Agreement Cover?

Postnuptial agreements are complex contracts because they need to cover various important information. Your postnup should spell out what will happen with:

  • Assets and property
  • Inheritance
  • Investments
  • Debts
  • Child custody and child support
  • Premarital assets
  • Pet care
  • Retirement
  • 401k accounts
  • Alimony
  • Spousal support
  • Legal issues if one of the spouses passes away

Should You Hire a Lawyer To Create a Postnup?

While you can find numerous postnuptial agreement templates, not all of them will be appropriate for your situation. Each marriage is different, and every couple has different requirements regarding assets, property, and other important aspects. Finding a contract template that’s a good fit for everyone is almost impossible. 

You can try to draw up the agreement on your own, but you risk making mistakes, which can make your document invalid. Even if you create a valid agreement, you might forget to include an important clause. Should this happen, the state will make a decision regarding that clause on your behalf.

The safest solution is to hire a lawyer who will create the agreement according to your and your spouse’s situation. Lawyers can be expensive, but making a mistake while writing the agreement can cost you even more. 

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