Can Prenuptial Agreements Be Modified in California?

A prenuptial agreement is an important legal document that could save you and your spouse from major disputes in the event that your marriage ends in divorce. Prenuptial agreements are created prior to marriage and go into effect when the couple marries. If you or your spouse wish to modify your prenup agreement, it is possible to alter the language of your contract before or during your marriage.

What Steps Need to Be Taken to Modify a Prenup?

A prenuptial agreement in California can always be changed, as long as both spouses sign off on the modification. If something changes, such as your marital property or number of children, and you wish to update your prenup with the most recent information, you and your spouse must both agree to make the change. You can change your prenuptial agreement by adding terms, removing terms or amending provisions.

There are two ways to modify a prenuptial agreement in California:

  1. Alter the existing prenup. Most prenuptial agreements have terms that allow for amendments or cancelations, especially prenups that are drawn up by attorneys. If this is the case, you and your spouse can modify your existing prenup. First, you will put what you wish to change in writing. Then you and your spouse will sign the document and submit it to the family court to make the change official.
  2. Create a new contract. If your prenuptial agreement does not contain terms for what to do if you wish to amend or revoke the document, you will be unable to add new information to the original contract. Instead, you will have to draw up another contract. You and your spouse should work with an attorney to create a new prenuptial agreement – or postnuptial agreement, if you are already married – containing the desired terms.

Note that a prenuptial agreement cannot be modified in California if you are legally separated from your spouse or in the process of getting a divorce. You may only modify a prenup before you are wed or during your marriage, and only with the cooperation of your spouse. It is also against the law to force someone to change the terms of a prenup under fraud or duress. Each spouse must sign off on the change by his or her own volition; otherwise, the modification or amendment will not hold up in court.

Can Prenuptial Agreements Ever Be Terminated?

Yes, it is possible to terminate or cancel a prenuptial agreement in California. Some couples may wish to terminate their prenuptial agreements because they believe they no longer need this type of financial protection. More often, however, a couple terminates an old prenuptial agreement to create a brand new one, due to the desire to modify a major portion of the document.

Like modifying a prenuptial agreement, both spouses must agree to terminate a prenup and sign off in writing. Until both spouses request termination of the prenuptial agreement, the terms of the agreement will remain as-is. An oral promise not to enforce the terms of a prenup will not stand up in court if the agreement was never officially terminated in California.

If you terminate your prenuptial agreement without creating a new one and get divorced, your divorce case will follow California’s standard rules for property division. This is a 50/50 division of community property – all assets and debts acquired during the marriage. Before you terminate your prenuptial agreement, consult with an attorney to make sure this is the right decision for you and your family.

Why You Should Work With a Family Law Attorney

If you wish to create, modify or terminate a prenuptial agreement, contact a family law attorney in San Diego for assistance. Modifying a prenup on your own could put you at risk of creating unlawful terms or invalidating the entire agreement. An attorney can guide you through the legal process to make it as easy as possible for you and your spouse, as well as to ensure your modifications are legal and valid.