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How Does A Prenuptial Agreement Impact Divorce Settlements?

Top divorce attorneys Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmPrenuptial agreements or prenups are contracts undertaken between two partners who are soon to be married, and detail the terms of what will happen, should the marriage go sour. If you and your soon to be ex had the foresight to work out a prenuptial agreement before you got married, your divorce proceedings should, in general, be a much smoother process. Here’s a look at how having a prenuptial agreement impacts divorce settlements.

What does a prenup do?

A prenuptial agreement is a written undertaking that is legally binding, like any contract, with specific terms laid out usually with regards to the divisions of assets in the event of a divorce. It may also lay down specific conditions or circumstances under which one spouse may give up their rights to the marital assets. For instance, if the prenup says a spouse will not get anything if they are found guilty of adultery, are abusive or use drugs, then this will steer the divorce proceedings in that direction.

Proving infidelity or abuse

In case the prenup has some conditions which exclude either the husband or the wife from taking their share of the assets, for instance if they cheat during the marriage, then the onus is on the other spouse to prove this adultery. Once this is proven in a court of law, the other spouse will lose their right to the assets, as per the terms of the contract. If however, this cannot be proven, then a good divorce attorney might still be able to help get some of the assets, if not an equitable share.

Dealing with what isn’t in the prenup

While a prenup is usually well thought through and arrived at through mediation and with the consultation of a professional, and checked by your attorneys, there are times when it doesn’t cover every eventuality. For these aspects of the divorce, the regular route of mediation or heading to family courts will play out.


Having a prenup doesn’t mean you are covered, if the contract doesn’t hold water in court due to improper phrasing or missed details in the drafting. This is why you must be extra careful when drawing up the prenuptial agreement. Work with family law attorneys with experience in prenups as well as the laws specific to the area you live in.

Even if it is legally accurate, a prenup can be dismissed or ignored by the court if it is deemed unfair or fails to stand up to the requirements of the state the divorce is being filed in. So be sure your prenup is not just perfectly drafted, but also unambiguous, logical and most importantly, justifiable.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

divorce_attorneyGerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law lawyer and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.



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