Is a Prenup Still Valid After 10 Years?

When you sign a prenup (also known as a premarital agreement or prenuptial agreement) you are putting in place an agreement that will stay in effect for the entire course of your marriage (and in fact, most couples who have one and stay together will never use it or even look at it again) unless you have agreed for it to sunset or change at any particular time period. So, is a prenup still valid after 10 years?

Serious middle aged woman with glasses reading papers sitting at home in a chair. Important business information, letter, prenup documents, lifestyle

In California, any marriage that is ten years or longer would be considered a long-term marriage and sometimes people might think that means that their prenuptial agreement would not be valid after 10 years. This is not accurate – however, there are certainly things to consider when putting together you prenup to make sure that the prenup will still be valid and enforceable after 10 years.

About Prenuptial Agreements in California

For a premarital agreement to remain valid and enforceable, it must have been legally sound at the time of signing. In California, this means that there was no fraud, duress, or undue influence at the time of entering the prenup. It also means that both parties did their necessary full financial disclosures, and the required timelines for signing were followed.

Additionally, it’s important for the original prenup to consider changes in circumstances over time, such as the birth of a child, change in work circumstances for one or both of the parties or substantial changes in wealth over the marriage. If the original agreement does not consider these changes in circumstances, then it’s possible that the prenup would be invalid, if your circumstances had changed so much that enforcing the original agreement would be unconscionable. This is especially true in California when it comes to spousal support waivers.

Expiry of Prenuptial Agreements

If you enter a prenup that you do want to end at a specific period, then some prenups include sunset clauses that specify the agreements expiration date. This can be negotiated at the time the agreement is drafted and oftentimes ten (10) years seems to be a common length of time.

Other agreements may contain provisions for periodic reviews and updates which would be one way to deal with changes in circumstances over time. It’s important for couples to understand these clauses and adhere to any conditions on the agreement for the validity and enforceability down the road, if necessary.

Even if your prenup does not specifically call for periodic reviews it can be good to not just put your prenup away and forget about it but to consider reviewing it especially after major life events or changes to ensure that it still reflects your wishes and current circumstances. If changes are necessary then you’re going to want to make sure that any amendments are put in writing, signed, and notarized and that you ensure that there is again no fraud, duress or undue influence and potentially additional financial disclosures as well.

A prenuptial agreement is not just a document that is signed and forgotten. Its relevance and enforceability can be affected by many factors over the years. By understanding these factors and adopting best practices for maintaining your prenup, you can ensure that your marital agreement continues to protect your interests – no matter how many anniversaries you celebrate.

If you need to draft a prenup, or are interested in reviewing your current prenup together with a mediator, then contact us today for a premarital mediation consult.

By: Amanda Singer, Esq., MDR, CDFA®

Amanda Singer with west coast family mediation center

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