California is a community property state. Meaning absent an agreement to the contrary, property acquired during the marriage is presumptively “community property,” and in the event of a divorce, each spouse is entitled to half. In addition, property acquired before marriage, after permanent separation, through inheritance, or as a gift is presumptively "separate property." This however is a rebuttable presumption.
Dangers involving not having a prenup, include but are not limited to, character and division of community and separate property; capital gain of stocks; increase in value of any retirement plan and pension (401K, CalPERS, CalSTRS) and increased equity in real property. Finally all debts and liabilities acquired during the marriage, are also presumptively community debts and charged equally against each party.
California allows an award of spousal support for both short (less than 10 years) and long term (10 years or longer) marriages. A prenup, can decide if spousal support should be ordered and how much. Bottomline, a prenup can reduce significant litigation costs and stress.
A valid enforceable prenup, must meet the following requirements: (1) each party must be represented by separate independent counsel, (2) each party must fully declare his/her financials, and (3) each signatory party must be in receipt of the agreement at least 7 days prior to signing the document.