They say that you can contract into anything. With prenuptial agreements becoming so commonplace, this is seeming more and more true – but how much of your spouse’s behavior can you actually control via a contract? If your spouse does not hold up the other half of the bargain, are you entitled to more of the assets in the divorce? Agreements between spouses that seek to govern how one or both members of the marriage will behave are called lifestyle clauses, and their contents and validity vary greatly.
Many couples attempt to dissuade each other from cheating by agreeing to allocate more assets in a divorce to one spouse if the other spouse is unfaithful. These clauses have been enforced in many states as long as the infidelity is proven and the agreement did not otherwise go against public policy. However, California is the exception. These clauses are against public policy since they are contrary to the state’s no-fault divorce laws. Not only do these clauses complicate divorce proceedings, allegations of infidelity are very hard to prove. Even with an infidelity clause and a cheating soon-to-be-ex-spouse, you typically will not get a larger settlement just because your spouse was unfaithful – unless he or she spent considerable money on the cheating process or on the person with whom he or she cheated.
Other clauses that seek to govern behavior during the marriage also seem to be frowned upon in California – as well as in other states. For example, a court is unlikely to enforce a prenuptial clause that specifies that a spouse will not gain a certain amount of weight or that he or she will be responsible for all of the chores. However, clauses about how money is spent during the marriage may be enforced, and many aspects of prenuptial agreements are perfectly acceptable and valid.
Although lifestyle clauses typically are not enforceable in California, one of the spouses would have to actually challenge the clause in order to prevent it from being enforced. Depending on how public the divorce is, one spouse may not want to go through the motions and publicity of discussing his or her sex life in court in order to save some money, and the clause may also deter infidelity for the same reason. Additionally, even if your lifestyle clause would never be enforceable, talking about these issues with your fiancé(e) before the marriage or even with your spouse after you get married may help foster communication and outline expectations for the marriage. Even if your lifestyle clause would be found to be unenforceable, it should not render the rest of your prenuptial agreement invalid if you have a severability clause.
No matter how complicated your divorce, we can help. For help with your case or in any other aspect of family law, you can turn to the Law Office of Renkin & Associates for the help that you deserve. We are prepared to answer your questions and fight for your assets.