Couples in California planning to legally become one often anticipate spending a lifetime together. Realistically, not all marriages will last as long as expected for one reason or another. While there’s no way for soon-to-be-spouses to know for sure if a marriage will end in the future, having a prenuptial agreement can provide some added peace of mind and financial security under the right circumstances. Without this type of document, assets are typically divided as per state guidelines, which is sometimes a 50/50 split.

If a divorce occurs with a prenup, however, property and assets will be divided based on what was determined prior to marriage. It’s an option that may be especially beneficial if one party has significantly more assets or inherited wealth. When one future spouse is a higher earner, a prenup can spell out alimony arrangements for the lower-earning partner. A pre-marriage agreement can also protect a business that may be owned independently by one party; otherwise, it might have to be sold or shared with an ex-spouse post-marriage.

With long-term marriages, it’s not unusual for one spouse to remain home to care for children, which could make it difficult to transition back to work in the event of a divorce. While a custodial parent will likely receive child support, a prenup can allow for added support, or clearly dictate each party’s financial responsibilities. A well-structured prenup may also keep one spouse from having to absorb some of the other one’s debt following a divorce. An increasingly popular inclusion in prenups is a clause covering who would get custody of family pets.

When a prenup is planned, each partner will have a separate lawyer. An attorney may be able to structure such an agreement in a way that’s fair to both parties. In some cases, negotiations may be necessary with the other party’s lawyer to determine what each partner would be willing to give up if the knot is untied in the future. It’s also possible to make a prenuptial agreement modification at any point after the wedding ceremony if circumstances change.