When couples choose to divorce here in southern California, their assets will likely be divided under community property law. This generally means that the property acquired during the marriage–except certain items and assets–will be divided 50/50. However, deciding which assets are part of the community estate and which are separate is a complicated process.
Community property laws do not always come into play, however, because many couples have prenuptial agreements, legal contracts entered into before marriage that specify how things will be divided if the marriage is to end. There are many issues that arise when enforcing a prenuptial agreement. For example, there can be major problems if the spouses live in different states because prenuptial agreement laws vary from state to state.
For example, a Dow Jones blog recently covered the story of a woman from California and a man from New York who are working with five attorneys–two in California, two in New York and another who is focused on coordination efforts–to craft their prenuptial agreement.
This is because both states have vastly different property division and prenuptial agreement laws, and it is important for the couple’s agreement to be legally enforceable in both states.
The Uniform Law Commission, which is a collective of lawyers, lawmakers, professors and judges from around the country, is currently working to get states on the same page when it comes to prenups.
The Uniform Law Commission writes legislation to bring uniformity to state laws, and submits the laws to state lawmakers for consideration; it is still up to individual states to pass the laws.
For now, prenuptial agreement laws remain disjointed from state to state. Couples who are mobile, across state borders, and are writing prenuptial agreements or thinking about the potential enforcement of an agreement would be wise to bring up these concerns with an experienced family law professional.
Source: Financial Advisor, Dow Jones, “New Prenuptial Rules Aim to Get States on Same Page,” Arden Dale, Aug. 15, 2012