How much does a California prenuptial agreement cost ? This is a common question that California couples ask before getting married. So let’s explore this question and review general information about prenuptial agreements and why they are important.
How Much Does a Prenuptial Agreement Cost in California?
A prenuptial agreement, commonly shortened to “prenup,” is a legally binding contract executed by couples before marriage. A prenup is a helpful planning tool for couples because it documents each person's assets and debts before the marriage and acts as a settlement agreement if the couple divorces.
Suppose a couple marries without a prenup in place. Then, if they ever get divorced, they will be subject to their state’s divorce laws for property division.
California is a “community property” state. This means that any new assets or debts acquired by a spouse automatically belong to the other at the start of a marriage. In addition, California state laws require that all marital assets and debts be split equally in a divorce.
One criticism of community property laws is that they tend to favor the spouse in the marriage who earns less. Even if one spouse contributes zero money during the marriage, they will still end up with half the assets in a divorce.
To avoid this automatic property division, couples can use a prenup agreement to dictate how they want their assets to be divided in a divorce. A prenuptial agreement must be adequately drafted, so it is common for couples to hire an attorney for help.
A lawyer will know how to draft a contract that protects both parties and is legally enforceable under California laws.
Based on ContractsCounsel's marketplace data, the average cost of a prenuptial agreement in California is $676.43.
What's Typically Included in a California Prenuptial Agreement
In California, prenuptial agreements are governed by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), so every prenup must adhere to these laws. Every prenuptial agreement will be different based on the couple, but the most common items covered in a prenup include:
- Premarital assets. A list of each person's assets before entering the marriage and how the assets will be treated after the marriage.
- Premarital debts. A list of each person’s debts before the marriage and who will be responsible for the debts after the wedding.
- Marital assets. California considers any property gained during the marriage equally owned by both spouses. However, a prenup can override this law and dictate that certain assets remain the sole property of one spouse.
- Marital debts. Like assets, in California debts acquired during the marriage will be both spouses’ responsibility. Prenups can be used to split up any marital debt.
- Right to alimony. The couple can agree whether one spouse will pay alimony to the other.
- Distribution of property. How property will be divided in a divorce
- Inheritance. Suppose either spouse has children from a previous marriage. In that case, the prenup can dictate what assets will go to the children if their parent dies.
In addition to these clauses, California prenuptial agreements are unique because they allow couples to include information about the rights, roles, and responsibilities of each partner in the marriage if the terms do not violate public policy. Some examples of roles and responsibilities can include:
- Who is expected to pay specific bills
- How tax returns are filed
- How bank accounts are handled
- Rules for large purchases
To be legally enforceable, prenuptial agreements must be made voluntarily with one’s free will and signed by both parties.
Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement
Considering that half of all marriages end in divorce, prenuptial agreements have become valuable documents that provide spouses with many benefits, including:
- Protection of assets
- Protection from debts
- Customized plan to distribute assets in a divorce
- Avoidance of a typical divorce settlement
- Comprehensive planning for the future
- Peace of mind knowing that financial matters are settled
California Prenuptial Agreement Projects
Prenuptial Agreement Drafting in California
In California, a prenuptial agreement is not legally binding if an attorney doesn’t represent both parties. For this reason, couples must hire attorneys to draft their prenuptial agreement even if there are no disputes over the terms and conditions.
The lawyer hired to draft the agreement will record the couple’s assets and debts and create a comprehensive agreement that includes the couple’s terms and wishes for their property.
Prenuptial Agreement Review in California
Both parties must be represented by a lawyer to have a valid prenuptial agreement in California, so one party’s lawyer that did not draft the prenup will need to review the contract on behalf of their client.
The lawyer will review the prenuptial agreement with their client’s needs and interests. The attorney will ensure that the prenup is fair and that their client fully understands all the terms and conditions to which they agree.
California Prenuptial Agreement Drafting Cost
When a couple hires a lawyer to draft their prenuptial agreement, they will incur legal fees because drafting a contract requires a licensed lawyer's time and legal expertise.
According to ContractsCounsel's marketplace data, the average California prenuptial agreement drafting costs are $975.00.
Reviewing California Prenuptial Agreement Cost
Hiring an attorney to review a prenuptial agreement also comes with legal fees. The lawyer will use their legal expertise and knowledge of California law to review the contract and check for mistakes.
ContractsCounsel's marketplace data shows that California's average prenuptial agreement review costs are $278.33.
How Do California Lawyers Charge for a Prenuptial Agreement?
Hourly Rates for Prenuptial Agreements
An hourly rate fee structure is one of the more popular arrangements for hiring a family law attorney in California. When using an hourly rate structure, the attorney will bill the client at a set hourly rate for the number of hours worked on the project.
Billable hours can include:
- Meeting with the client to discuss the content of the prenup
- Time spent drafting
- Being present when the agreement is signed
The marketplace data for ContractsCounsel shows that the average hourly rate for a family lawyer in California ranges from $200 - $350 per hour.
Flat Fee Rates for Prenuptial Agreements
Flat rate billing structures are becoming more common for contract drafting projects. When using a flat fee rate, a lawyer will provide the client with a quote for the entire job. If the client agrees, they will pay upfront, and the lawyer will begin working on their case or project.
Clients usually prefer flat fee rates because they know their total bill before agreeing to legal services. In addition, lawyers benefit from this fee structure because they collect payment upfront and don’t have to keep track of their billable hours.
ContractsCounsel's marketplace data shows the average flat fee rate for a prenuptial agreement in California is $676.43.
Get Help with a California Prenuptial Agreement
Do you need help with a prenuptial agreement project? If so, post a project in ContractsCounsel's marketplace to receive flat fee bids from family lawyers who are licensed to practice law in California and can handle your project. All lawyers on the ContractsCounsel's platform are vetted by our team to make sure you are provided with top-tier service.