Prenuptial Agreements / Postnuptial Agreements

Mello & Pickering, LLP works with couples that wish to establish the terms of a settlement agreement either before or after they are married—in the event that they later decide to divorce or legally separate. While these kinds of agreements are often frowned upon by society, working out a prenuptial (premarital) agreement before marriage or a postnuptial agreement after the fact can be very practical, especially because California is a community property state. This means that unless you and your husband or wife have signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, your community property will presumptively be divided 50-50 between the two of you.

Working out the terms of a potential settlement in advance—especially if your joint and separate assets are complex and/or vast—allows you and your spouse or fiancé to decide for yourselves how you wish your assets and debts to be divided.

Even though you are working on your agreement as a couple, it is important that each of you have your own family law attorney who will represent you and your interests while protecting your rights. You will also want to make sure that your agreement with your fiancé or spouse is drafted correctly in the event that you do get divorced or become legally separated. Premarital and postnuptial agreements are legal contracts that are enforceable by law and can prove challenging to contest later.

Terms of a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement addresses in specific terms many matters, including the following:

  • Who gets what assets in the event that you decide to end your legal union
  • How finances and assets will be handled during the marriage
  • Spousal support terms
  • Any business ownership issues
  • What to do with your estate in the event that one of you dies
  • The handling of gifts, inheritances, or trusts
  • Benefits, disability, and insurance coverage

California law does not allow for the inclusion of child support matters in a prenuptial agreement.

Terms of a Postnuptial Agreement

Because of the relationship that a husband and wife have entered into together through marriage, a married couple that have decided to create a postnuptial agreement are considered each other’s fiduciary, and they are therefore required by law to provide each other with the full disclosure of all information and issues pertaining to the drafting of a postnuptial agreement. The terms that can be settled by a postnuptial agreement are similar to the ones included in a prenuptial agreement.

Challenging and Enforcing Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

In the event that you have signed a prenuptial or a postnuptial agreement that you now wish to challenge because your spouse did not disclose all of his or her assets or debts, you were unfairly pressured into signing the agreement, or you were deceived into signing the contract, Mello & Pickering, LLP will help you challenge the terms of a defective prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and, if necessary, litigate your matter in court.

We also represent clients who wish to enforce the terms of their prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that a soon-to-be ex-husband or ex-wife may now wish to contest.

Traci Pickering and Jennifer Mello are family law experts who will assist you with the property valuation of your joint and separate assets. They are familiar with property and business matters that can become a factor between couples that are trying to work out a settlement agreement in the Silicon Valley. They will assist you negotiate the terms of your divorce, legal separation, child custody/visitation, child support, and spousal support agreements as necessary.

Located in San Jose, California, Mello & Pickering, LLP has many clients in Santa Clara, Campbell, Fremont, Gilroy, Hayward, Milpitas, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Atherton, Pleasanton, San Jose, Morgan Hill, Santa Clara, and Saratoga, as well as other cities throughout Santa Clara County, Alameda County, and San Mateo County.

Send an e-mail to to schedule your complimentary, free consultation. You can also call Mello & Pickering, LLP at (408) 288-7800.

Mello & Pickering, LLP explicitly disclaims all liability related to actions performed or not performed based on any or all of the content on this Web site. View our Disclaimer page for more information.

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