The short answer is yes. You should always have a prenup in place if you are engaged and plan on getting married in California.
But I’m not wealthy. . .
There is a common misconception that prenups are only for the wealthy. However, every couple can benefit from having a prenup. If you don’t have a prenup, you essentially agree and submit to the state of California’s prenup upon separation through the CA Family Code and published case law. Without a prenup, you agree to the creation of community property, the obligation to cover all community debts, known or not, and the long-term spousal support framework. By having a prenup, you can avoid opting into an often-misunderstood set of laws without informed consent.
Won’t my fiancé think I’m already planning for divorce before we’re even married?
Depending on their education and background experiences they could either feel that a prenup is a no-brainer or they might be skeptical. For example, individuals in the finance industry, such as accounts, would assume a prenup is in order knowing that it’s not personal. However, someone who has never thought of prenups before may be more skeptical of the process and worry that you are already thinking of divorce. However, a prenup can actually strengthen your marriage and avoid issues that can often lead to divorce; by preparing a prenup together, you and your partner address and set clear expectations of sticky financial issues prior to marriage.
A large part of the premarital agreement process is going through both your and your fiancé’s assets and debts. This process allows you both to budget and sets financial goals for your future together. This can include paying down debts, so you can buy your dream home together or starting a savings account for your future child’s college fund. Additionally, you can also address property rights if either one of you passes away inexpediently. These types of discussions prior to marriage will create a strong foundation for your future partnership together.
I would recommend that before you present your already drafted prenup to your fiancé, you should talk to him or her first about it and discuss the benefits. If needed, you should also explain that you aren’t planning for divorce but rather are building a stronger foundation for your future together.