Prenup signed 24 years earlier couldn’t be enforced

A California couple signed a prenuptial agreement back in 1985 saying that the wife wouldn’t get any alimony payments if the couple divorced.

At that time, prenuptial agreements like this one weren’t valid in California. In fact, the couple even acknowledged in the agreement that it probably wasn’t legally enforceable.

But times change! In 2000, the California Supreme Court ruled that a waiver of alimony in a prenup could be enforced under certain circumstances. And in 2002, the state legislature passed a law saying that alimony waivers were okay as long as both members of the couple had their own lawyer.

The couple in this case divorced in 2009. So was the prenup now legally valid?

No, according to the California Court of Appeal. The court said that the prenup was subject to the law at the time it was signed. And even though the law had changed in the intervening years, the change in the law couldn’t go backward in time and make a contract that wasn’t originally valid into something that was binding on the couple.