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We Can’t Get Married, Does a Premarital Agreement Still Protect Me?

By Amanda Singer

So, there are many couples out there who may have been scheduled to get married and plans got waylaid with COVID-19. I am actually one of those. Now we only got engaged at the beginning of this year (although we’ve been together for 6.5 years) but because we wanted to do a small wedding we discussed getting married in July when the family could be in town. Now we’re in June and it’s looking highly unlikely that is going to happen. We were also invited to a wedding in July that has now been rescheduled for December and I know there are many more of these kinds of stories. While some couples have decided to get married anyways many have put the wedding off for months, a year or even indefinitely as we figure out what this new normal is going to look like.

Some of those couples who were supposed to get married this summer may have already completed a premarital agreement and even signed it before everything happened (I had clients in that situation), while others may have been in the negotiating stages of the process and not completed the final draft yet. Either way, your premarital agreement doesn’t actually go into effect until you get married so if you’ve put off your wedding plans, for the time being, you’ll want to think about how that might affect what you put into your premarital agreement. For example, let’s say that you decided that any property you buy while you’re married would be considered community property and you didn’t plan to purchase any real property until after the wedding but if you’ve delayed it for a year and you and your fiancé are looking at purchasing property prior to the wedding. Your premarital agreement wouldn’t necessarily cover this, and you may want to amend it or put in place an interim cohabitation agreement until your premarital agreement does take control. Now you can do an online premarital agreement so you don’t necessarily have to wait until next year if you’ve delayed your wedding that long, but you will want to think about what goes in it and how things might change in the next year.

Many of you might be wondering what exactly is a cohabitation agreement and how can that benefit me? A cohabitation agreement would be an agreement between you and your partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, basically anyone you’re not married to) that details things like purchasing of property, joint bank accounts, expenses, etc. This allows two people who are living together but not married to detail out how certain financial decisions may play out. For example, my fiancé and I bought our house two years ago before we were even engaged but we put the down payment down in unequal portions and we had an agreement of how we’d be paying the mortgage, expenses, etc. so, we drafted a cohabitation agreement that dealt with these various issues and we signed it before we closed on the house. Now we’re going to take some of the agreements that were in that agreement and put together a premarital agreement to sign before we get married. Cohabitation agreements have less “formalities” surrounding them than premarital agreements have since they’re basically a contract between two unmarried people but are still enforceable like any contract that follows the laws of contracts is.

If you are living with your partner and planning to get married and unsure how your delay might affect you then contact us, and we’d be happy to discuss the situation more with you and see how we might be able to assist. Call San Diego Family Mediation Center at (858) 736-2411 for a FREE consultation.