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Can Domestic Violence Affect a Prenuptial Agreement in California?

Posted on in Domestic Violence

San Jose domestic violence attorneysPeople can make mistakes or bad judgment calls for various reasons. In some cases, young adults may think they are invincible, not pondering the consequences of their actions. In other instances, individuals may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they commit a criminal act. Impairment is not an excuse, but it can cause people to do things they would not normally do when they are sober. For example, hitting their spouse in a fit of rage can lead to domestic abuse charges, even if it only happened one time. An incident that occurred in the past should not hinder someone from moving on with their life, which may include divorce. If a couple signed a prenuptial agreement, will domestic violence allegations affect the terms of this legal document?   

Prenuptial Agreement Terms

A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a legal contract that a couple may choose to sign before they get married. This type of legal document is not required, but many couples like to create one since it protects their interests in the event of divorce. For a prenup to be valid in California, the partners must draft the contract per California’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which outlines the rules and requirements for prenuptial agreements. A prenup typically describes how the following marital issues will be distributed if a couple legally ends their marriage: 

Domestic Abuse Charges and Spousal Support

California is a no-fault state, which means that one spouse does not have to prove the other spouse did anything wrong in order to legally dissolve their marriage. This statute also applies when determining the outcome of a divorce. Regardless of whether one spouse had a history of domestic violence, the court will distribute marital property according to the prenuptial agreement (if there is one in place) the same way as if there was no abuse. However, there is one exception to this rule in California, and it involves spousal support. 

Spousal support or maintenance is a type of financial relief that is usually awarded to the lesser-earning spouse. The purpose of it is to help that spouse maintain a standard of living after the divorce is final, at least until he or she can become self-supporting. 

According to California divorce law, one party can argue against awarding spousal support to an abusive spouse. Evidence of the abuse must be shown to the courts in order for a spousal support order to be modified from what was originally put in the prenuptial agreement. Domestic abuse is not limited to physical altercations; it can also be verbal or psychological. Proof of domestic violence can include photographs, video, or audio recordings of violent behavior. If you are worried your prior history may impede your ability to receive what is rightfully yours, a knowledgeable adoption lawyer can explain your legal options.

Contact a San Jose, CA Family Law Attorney

Some people make mistakes when they are young, but that should not affect the rest of their life. A lapse in judgment or a substance abuse problem can lead to domestic violence charges. In some cases, false allegations can be made against a spouse. If you or someone you know is facing domestic abuse charges, you need professional legal assistance. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson are well-versed in how criminal charges can impact all areas of your life. Our accomplished Palo Alto domestic violence defense lawyers will fight for your rights in any family law matter, including prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. Call us today at 408-246-3004 to schedule your free consultation. 



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