Forgot a Pre-Nup? Create a Post-Nup

Posted September 9, 2013 in Family Law by Michael Lonich.

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September 9, 2013
Forgot a Pre-Nup? Create a Post-Nup
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In June, billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch surprised his third wife, Wendi, with divorce papers. Mr. Murdoch, the founder, Chairman, and CEO of the world’s second-largest media conglomerate, has been married with the current Mrs. Murdoch for 14 years, has two young daughters with her, and has four other children from previous marriages. In other words – plenty is at stake. However, the Murdoch divorce may not play out as disastrously as one would imagine because the couple signed not only a prenuptial agreement but two postnuptial agreements – one after each of their daughters was born.

Nowadays, postnuptial agreements are becoming increasingly common. Unlike prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements are entered into after the marriage rather than before. They cover many of the same issues commonly covered in prenuptial agreements, such as asset protection, debt division, and spousal support.

Oftentimes, however, many people are hesitant to enter into a postnuptial agreement because they believe that they adversely impact one spouse while benefiting the other. In actuality though, postnuptial agreements can protect assets as well as shield spouses from debts. Some scenarios where postnuptial agreements are a good idea include:

  • One spouse wants to borrow a significant amount of money to start up a business. The other spouse does not want to share in the debt that is created should the business fail. A postnuptial agreement can be drafted to shield one spouse from the debt burden in the event of a divorce.
  • One spouse receives a large inheritance and wants to invest it in an existing family business, but he or she wants to ensure that if there is a divorce the value of the inheritance will be protected. A postnuptial agreement can be drafted to protect the value of the investment in the business.
  • A postnuptial agreement can also be drafted so that real estate and community property is divided equitably rather than equally (a 50-50 split), as prescribed by California community property law.

Since the legal relationship between people changes once they are married, it is vital to have an experienced attorney draft any postnuptial agreement. Courts carefully scrutinize postnuptial agreements to ensure that they were entered into voluntarily, without coercion, duress, or undue influence. Likewise, the Murdoch postnuptials (and prenuptial) will be highly scrutinized by both parties for these loopholes.

At Lonich & Patton, our attorneys are prepared to help clients create targeted, legally binding postnuptial agreements. We always recommend that clients have legal counsel review their agreements to make it more difficult for either spouse to challenge the issues later on. If you have any questions about postnuptial agreements, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex Family Law proceedings and are happy to offer you a free consultation.

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DIY Divorce Success: The Exception, Not The Rule

Posted September 5, 2013 in Family Law by Rebecca Sternbach.

Recently the Huffington Post took a look at the risks of the new “Do-It-Yourself Divorce” trend, and we agree with their findings. Of course, anyone can get a divorce without an attorney, but it is not for everyone. This is especially true because many individuals underestimate what it will really take to dismantle their marriage, split up their property, and determine appropriate living arrangements for their children.

There are some couples who are in agreement on most issues, making divorce a cinch with or without a lawyer. So when is pursuing a DIY divorce a good idea? According to DivorceNet.com, a lawyer-free divorce is a good idea when:

  1. Both parties agree on all issues, including child custody, property division, and support (child and spousal);
  2. Both parties are certain that they have a comprehensive understanding of their family’s relatively simple financial situation, including assets and debts; and
  3. Both parties are content with the custody and support arrangements for their children and are readily prepared to co-parent.

Essentially, if your situation is not too complicated and you feel that every aspect of your separation is fairly settled, you might be a good candidate for an attorney-free divorce. Nevertheless, for every easy case there are ten more that are painfully complex. Many divorces may take years to work through because of the level of difficulty involved, especially when it comes to financial matters like pensions and stock options. When a divorce litigant is on his or her own when complications arise, efficiency tends to go out the window and a great deal of time and even money can be spent getting on the right track.

What is especially unfortunate for DIY-ers is the moment when they realize that they are in over their heads. This may occur when their ex shows up at a hearing with an attorney and they are all alone. Or, they may come to realize that their ex was withholding financial information, or their rights are being trampled in some other way.

To be sure, retaining a divorce attorney is an investment, but your attorney is also your ally. Your attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and that you will be in the best possible financial position after the divorce. Experienced family attorneys have the foresight to avoid problems before they arise and can help you reach a marital settlement that you and your family can be happy with for many years to come.

Whether you decide to retain an attorney or not, it is best to consult with one before you embark on your divorce journey. Contact the certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization) at Lonich & Patton to learn more about the divorce process. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law matters and we offer both full-service and consulting options. Make an appointment today for a free half-hour consultation with one of our attorneys.

 Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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