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Understanding postnuptial agreements in California

Even happy couples can benefit from clearly denoting expectations and rights to assets. For this reason, many couples sign prenuptials, and there has been an increase in postnuptial agreements.

To utilize the document properly, it is important to understand what it is and what it contains. There are a few key facts to know about postnuptial agreements in California.


Some individuals have the misconception that prenuptials and postnuptials are the same, and that parties sign one before a marriage and the other afterward. This is partially true. The agreements may contain the same information, and couples do sign prenups before their marriage, while spouses sign postnuptials after their marriage. However, there is one significant difference. According to California law, the courts automatically consider a prenuptial agreement to be legal upon its creation. On the other hand, a postnuptial is invalid until the courts deem otherwise.


There are a few requirements a postnuptial agreement must meet to be valid. Some of those main factors include:

  • It must be in writing.
  • The contract must be fair and all-inclusive.
  • Both parties must sign it voluntarily and have it notarized.

These are a few of the main aspects, but spouses may cater the actual text to their specific needs. Also, the provisions of the agreement should still uphold the duties of marriage that California family code 721 outlines.


There are several different uses for this agreement. In general, the agreement may help denote who receives what assets in the case of death or divorce. It may also include certain provisions that would result in the loss or gain of certain assets. For example, there may be a clause that awards or denies an individual alimony automatically, in the case of cheating.

This is a brief overview of postnuptial agreements. Take some time to review the law and speak with a knowledgeable professional so you may make the right decision for your marriage.

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