Los Angeles Family Mediation Services
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Mediating Post-Marital Agreements

Post-marital agreements include considerations that are different from those involving premarital agreements. California imposes fiduciary duties upon parties who are married or are registered domestic partners. Once a fiduciary relationship arises between two people, the law scrutinizes interspousal transactions carefully. It may presume that property transfers or waivers of economic rights were procured by an imbalance of power between the parties, amounting to undue influence. If the agreements and circumstances surrounding them are not managed correctly, transactions between spouses and even written agreements may be set aside.

Post-marital contracts are referred to as "transmutation" agreements when they involve a change in the character of property from separate to community or community to separate property. There are specific implications and formalities that must be understood and followed in order for them to be enforced.

There are many reasons why people may wish to alter their legal obligations after marriage. These can involve concerns relating to inheritances, property characterization, debt, reimbursement rights, health care, public benefits, children, substance or alcohol abuse, or worries over the potential end of the relationship.

The legal experts at LAFMS have found through long experience that when most people marry or register as domestic partners, they have little comprehension about the legal impacts and interpretrations of transactions between them, particularly as they relate to title to property and other financial interactions. This creates the potential for uncertainty and surprises which often defy even reasonable expectations and intentions.

It may be appropriate for you to consider mediating the terms of a contemplated post-nuptial agreement. We believe that this is a service that is appropriate to offer legal consumers. Mediated outcomes encourage and depend upon the joint decisionmaking of both parties. It is essential that you be fully informed about all downstream consequences. It is possible to creatively achieve such agreements in ways that serve the future interests of both parties. In such cases mediation serves to equalize the playing field and supports an open dialogue.

At the same time, given the important legal consequences of these types of agreements, the parties to such mediations may be required to consult with independent counsel for advice before a premarital agreement can be signed. It is important in this area that people get feedback from an advocate so that their decisions are fully informed.

Mediators are neutral facilitators who assist in uncovering shared interests, values, and outcomes. Benefits of using mediation processes include that the parties are able together to have a structured but open dialogue about how best to address their financial lives. Otherwise, as a practical matter, this discussion rarely occurs and as a result people tend to later regret and resent decisions that they made.

Mediation encourages peacemaking and promotes mutuality of interests for each person from the outset. This will always be worth the effort and expense.



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LAFMS - 9400 Brighton Way, Suite 407, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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