Yes, technically, you can write a prenup yourself in California. BUT mistakes will cost you even more than hiring an attorney if your prenup is done incorrectly. 

Imagine having your prenup thrown out in court because it’s not legally sound.

Though you’ve made a great decision to get a prenup, DIY prenup options have their severe drawbacks and are generally not advisable, so let’s take a closer look.

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BEFORE getting married, what conversations about MONEY should you have with your partner?

Use this guide to discuss budgets, assets, debts, goals, joints bank accounts and more.

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Why Get a Prenup?

A prenuptial agreement, or “prenup,” is a legal written agreement you and your partner enter before marriage.

It’s an invaluable tool for marital success.

Prenuptial agreements protect both parties’ assets and interests and help avoid conflict and uncertainty in the event of a divorce. Through the process of crafting a prenup, you and your partner will talk about money and goals — achieving alignment and peace of mind heading into marriage.

Keep in mind everyone’s situation is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all prenup. If you’re thinking about copying and pasting jargon from contracts you found online, don’t do it! You’ll miss out on various ways to tailor your prenup and empower a successful marriage.

Crafting Your Own Prenup

Swirl painting

According to California’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), you can create your own prenuptial agreement as long as it’s in writing and you follow all the rules of a valid prenup.

Sure, you can scribble a few sentences onto a napkin and call it a prenup, but it won’t do you any good. In other words, don’t draft a prenup on your own just to say you have one or simply avoid opting into California’s default marriage agreement.

Instead, take this opportunity to talk through money, life, kids, and other goals. Then, create a prenup that supports you and your partner during marriage and protects both of you in case of an unexpected end.

So, if you’re headstrong on writing your own prenup, here are a few tips and gotchas to be mindful of along the way.

Hand-Written Prenups

Hand writing

Before you do anything, talk to your partner.

Prenups aren’t one-sided contracts; in fact, they may not hold up in court if they are. This means you must work on this agreement together and pay special attention to your finances.

You’ll need to disclose all of your assets and debts, as well as any income or financial expectations you have for the future.

Here are just a few financial and other important questions to talk through:

  • What assets will you define as community property?
  • Do you have assets you want to keep as separate property?
  • Will you open a joint bank account?
  • How do you contribute to the joint account? What bills get paid from it?
  • How will you divide up assets in the event of a divorce? How about debts?
  • Who will pay spousal support, and how much?
  • Who gets the pets in a divorce?
  • Do you want to explicitly prohibit each other from posting harmful photos or videos on social media?

Aside from child custody or support, you can cover a lot of ground with a prenup. Once you have a clear picture of each other’s financial situation, you can start drafting your prenup.

Use this comprehensive prenup planner to walk you through what questions to ask and leave no stone unturned.

Plus, you must ensure the prenuptial agreement is legally enforceable in California courts. Your prenup can be voided if you don’t follow the proper timing, make it mutually beneficial, and abide by certain procedures under the UPAA.

Online Prenups

Woman considering an online prenup

Another way to create your own prenup is by using an online service or web application.

Online prenups are touted as a quick and affordable way to draft your own prenup. Basically, you choose your state, answer an online questionnaire, and receive an electronic prenuptial agreement.

Online prenups may be legal in California, but they’re only viable if you’ve done the deep work with your partner and include enforceable terms and provisions that will hold up in court.

I highly advise couples to have a family law attorney review the online prenup before signing it. This way, you know it’s legally sound and, if necessary, personalized to your specific goals.

Using Your Current Lawyer

Some couples tap on their current business or estate planning attorney to help write a prenup.

Though you’re technically not writing a prenup yourself, you may be tempted to save time and money by not having to hunt for a reputable family law attorney.

Proceed with caution here. Even if your current attorney is great in their field of work, they may not understand the nuances of family or prenup law.

You may save time and money upfront, but it will cost you down the line when the prenup falls flat in court.

Writing Your Own Prenup…What Could Go Wrong?

Person on highwire

The biggest risk in writing your own prenup agreement is including language that could invalidate it down the line. To be enforceable, your prenuptial agreement must follow specific rules set forth in the UPAA.

Here are several things to look out for when writing your own prenup in California:

  1. Each party must voluntarily sign the contract
  2. Don’t lie about or omit information on the state of your assets or debts
  3. Be sure to follow the “Seven-Day Rule
  4. Don’t include clauses that unfairly burden or blatantly favor one party over the other (in fact, you’re better off avoiding most lifestyle clauses altogether).

The benefit of working with a qualified prenup attorney is they know what to look out for and can guide you in creating a beneficial and legally sound prenup.

Without this expertise, you’ll have to be extra diligent that you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s.

Next Steps


It’s understandable why DIY prenup options may be attractive. They can be cheaper and even faster than working with a family law attorney.

But inking your own prenuptial agreement might cost you thousands and not do you any good when you need it most.

Don’t get tunnel vision, and don’t rush into a prenup. Even if you go the DIY route, get an experienced family law attorney to review the agreement so you have peace of mind out the gates, during the marriage, and in case things don’t work out with your partner.

For a comprehensive review of your prenup, book a consultation call with me. I have over a decade of experience crafting and reviewing prenup agreements in California and I am happy to answer your burning questions.

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