Enforceability of Foreign Prenups with Foreign Brides or Grooms under California Law

Legal Translations of Foreign Marital Contracts to English

We’ve blogged about the importance of an accurate legal translation of an enforceable cross-border prenuptial contract with a foreign fiancée or a foreign fiancé, or with a foreign bride or a foreign groom. Unlike most jurisdictions, California operates under the unique legal system of community property. Under such a legal system, when two people in California get a divorce, they are subject to the community property laws of the state. This means that all property belongs to the couple and therefore will be divided evenly. However, California does allow a couple to  enter into a premarital agreement – or prenuptial agreement. Although this works fine for California couples, problems arise when a foreign marital contract is involved as most foreign marital contracts specify a regime like joint, separate, or a variation thereof.  The question is whether or not a California court, under California law, can enforce a foreign marital contract.

According to California law, a premarital contract is enforceable so long as:

  •     The party against whom enforcement is sought was represented by independent counsel.
  •     The party against whom enforcement is sought had not less than seven days to seek independent counsel.
  •     The party against whom enforcement is sought was fully informed of the terms of the agreement.
  •     A provision in the agreement exists stating that if independent counsel was not involved, the agreement is not enforceable.
  •     The agreement was not executed under duress, fraud or undue influence.
  •     Fair, reasonable and full disclosure of all property and financial obligations was provided.
  •     The agreement did not promote divorce.
  •     The agreement was not against public interest.

Accordingly, it would seem that as long as the foreign marital contract with a foreign national meets these requirements, it will be enforceable under California law. However, when a foreign marital contract is in a foreign language, it becomes essential that these requirements are proven. To do this, a foreign language translation will be required. If supporting testimonial evidence is needed, a foreign language interpreter will also be required.

See Walzer, Peter M.  Foreign Affairs.  Los Angeles Lawyer.  December 2008, p.18

To read our legal translation blog post “Ohio Appellate Court To Rule on the Interpretation of Islamic Marriage Contract- Mahr”, click here.  And to read “Professional Translation Services for Matrimonial and Divorce Attorneys, and Having a Foreign Granted Divorce Recognized in a U.S. Court”, click here.

Hire our legal translation company to translate foreign language documents from Czech, Thai, Spanish, Russian, Norwegian, French and other languages for the USCIS and for the U.S. immigration in Denver, Colorado, and nationwide.


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