How a prenuptial agreement can save you from post-divorce chaos

Rwanda is gradually reaching a new level in the development of information technology. New electronic platforms are being created that provide access to banking operations and electronic commerce. Over time, there are plans to build a whole “innovation town,” a new Silicon Valley, similar to the one in California.

This project gives Rwanda hope for a great technological future, where thousands of young people can get high-paying jobs.  And having earned wealth with hard work, they will share it with their families, spouses, and children. In a perfect world, they will have a happy and long life. Unfortunately, not everyone’s marriage is a fairy tale.

Again, let’s take California as an example. From the experience of many people whose marriage ended with a divorce, there is no such thing as excessive caution regarding the financial side of the matter. You may be wondering what married people do in California to keep their assets safe. One way is by signing a prenuptial agreement.

According to the research conducted by, 30 years ago, 2% to 7% of all marriages in California included a prenuptial agreement. Today, about 60% of newlyweds sign a marriage contract.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a written contract between two people entering into a marriage that determines their property rights and obligations in case of its dissolution. In most instances, it is a document that aims to resolve possible disputes in the future.

Issues addressed in a prenuptial agreement in California can include:

  • The ownership rights regarding the property acquired in the marriage.
  • The procedure for managing marital estate.
  • The amount of spousal support both during the marriage and after its dissolution.
  • Issues of participation in the upbringing and education of children.
  • Regulation of personal relations.
  • Use of property sanctions for violation of the terms of the contract.

When does a prenuptial agreement take effect?

It is generally accepted that a prenuptial agreement comes into force from the moment all parties sign it. If the prenuptial agreement was concluded before the marriage, it would only take effect from the moment of its official registration. If the couple is already married, they can create a postnuptial agreement.

What information is needed to draw up a marriage contract?

Future spouses must report all existing financial assets, debts, and other liabilities, as well as current income. It is unacceptable to conclude a contract in such a way that it favors one of the parties. Disclosure of assets contributes to the preparation of a fair prenuptial agreement without putting any of the parties at a disadvantage.

If the contract does not explicitly disclose the assets or their division, the California state court may distribute them at its own discretion.

When is it best to sign a prenuptial agreement?

It is better to sign a marriage contract in advance of the marriage. Both spouses should have enough time to understand the essence of the contract and sign it without any emotional upheaval. In the United States, it is recommended to sign the prenuptial agreement at least seven days before the official registration of the marriage. Also, any prenuptial agreement can be modified over time, if necessary.

What cannot be written in a marriage contract?

It is forbidden to limit the legal capacity of spouses. For example, you cannot forbid one of the spouses from working or choosing a specific type of activity or profession. Freedom of movement and the right to education cannot be restricted.

It is also unacceptable to write down conditions that put one of the spouses in a very unfavorable position. For example, there is no way to request that all property acquired jointly during the marriage becomes the separate property of one of the spouses.

It is impossible to limit and regulate parental rights regarding children. For example, you cannot indicate a custodial parent with whom the child will stay in case of divorce. You also cannot include the condition that you agree not to go to court if you still have unresolved issues.

What you can include is, for example, that in the event of a divorce, spouses will turn to a mediator — a person who helps resolve disputes between people without trial. His or her services may be cheaper than hiring a lawyer, because you only need one mediator, whereas two lawyers are required (one for each spouse) in the USA. 

When does the prenuptial agreement end?

The prenuptial contract can be terminated exclusively in court. In this case, the plaintiff must provide the grounds for such action:

  • Proof of pressure on the person upon signing the contract;
  • Use of enslaving conditions for one of the parties to the agreement;
  • Divorce or death of one of the spouses.

The prenuptial agreement ends after all its terms are fulfilled, and the marriage is over.  The exceptions are obligations in the post-divorce period. Also, the legal force of a prenuptial agreement terminates upon the mutual application of the parties.

Can a prenuptial agreement be declared null and void?

Recognition of a marriage contract as invalid is carried out in court at the request of one of the spouses, whose rights and interests are violated by this contract.

A court may declare a prenuptial agreement void in whole or in part for the following reasons:

  • the contract does not comply with state laws;
  • the contract was not drawn up in written form;
  • the prenuptial agreement was concluded by a citizen recognized as legally incompetent due to a mental disorder;
  • the prenuptial agreement was made under the influence of a delusion, deceit, violence, threat;
  • the prenuptial agreement was drawn up with extremely unfavorable conditions for one of the parties.

Final word

When creating a family, all newlyweds think that they will live happily ever after. Unfortunately, life may turn in a completely different direction.

That is why drawing up a prenuptial agreement will help end the marriage peacefully and make your divorce less painful.

The signing of a marriage contract will nullify all risks associated with the registration of marriage. And if a divorce should happen, the agreement will protect you from grave financial problems.