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2020 Update – California Prenuptial Agreement 7-Day Waiting Period (CA Family Code section 1615)

On my Youtube channel, I have some videos in which I go over how prenuptial agreements in California work. In one of those videos, I go over how an unrepresented party to a prenuptial agreement has to have at least 7 calendar days to review the agreement prior to signing the agreement. In addition to the 7 days, the unrepresented person also has to be told to go get legal counsel. Failure to provide this admonition or provide the unrepresented spouse the 7 days means that the prenuptial agreement can be invalidated on that basis alone. The goal, of course, is to not force or coerce any person in to a prenuptial agreement that they would other wise not agree to freely. If you need California legal authority for that, it’s section 1615 of the California Family Code.

In the real world, this 7-day waiting period often poses a problem if you have a wedding date set and you’re rushing to get a prenuptial agreement done before that and at least one of the parties to the prenuptial agreement is not represented by an attorney.

The purpose of this blog post is to describe at least one major update to Section 1615 of the California Family Code that took place for calendar year 2020. The update is found in section 1615(c)(2) (B) of the California Family Code which states:

“For an agreement executed on or after January 1, 2020, the party against whom enforcement is sought had not less than seven calendar days between the time that party was first presented with the final agreement and the time the agreement was signed, regardless of whether the party is represented by legal counsel. This requirement does not apply to nonsubstantive amendments that do not change the terms of the agreement.”

Contrast this with section 1615(c)(2)(A) which states:

“For an agreement executed between January 1, 2002, and January 1, 2020, the party against whom enforcement is sought had not less than seven calendar days between the time that party was first presented with the final agreement and advised to seek independent legal counsel and the time the agreement was signed. This requirement does not apply to nonsubstantive amendments that do not change the terms of the agreement.”

In other words, the update here is that, for California prenuptial agreements signed after January 1, 2020, the seven calendar day waiting period now applies to both parties, regardless of whether they have an attorney or not. Under the old rule (i.e. Section 1615(c)(2)(A)), you could waive out of the 7-day rule if you had an attorney because, logically, you would not have to be “advised to seek independent legal counsel” if you already had it.

As always, this post is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion about California prenuptial agreements of the 7-day waiting period. If this post helped you, please do your own research also because, as this post illustrates, the law might have changed between the time I wrote it and the time you’re reading it. If you have a situation involving a California prenuptial agreement, please do find an attorney in your area with whom you can discuss your situation face-to-face.

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Andy Chen

Andy I. Chen is a lawyer licensed to practice law in California and New York. Andy maintains offices in Los Altos, California and Modesto, California. Under the New York Court of Appeals' 2015 decision in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Andy does not accept cases from those in New York state. He does, however, know many lawyers in New York state and would be happy to make a referral.

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