Over the last decade, beginning with two seminal cases
being decided by the California Supreme Court in
2000, there have been significant developments in the
law pertaining to premarital agreements. One common
theme found in the flurry of recent reported appellate
cases involving premarital agreements is the need for
both parties entering into such agreements to utilize the
services of experienced family law counsel. In fact, the
California state legislature in response to the California
Supreme Court's holding in Pendleton and Fireman
from 2000, amended the California Uniform Premarital
Agreement Act to specifically and expressly require
that both parties have "independent legal counsel" if a
waiver or limitation of spousal support is incorporated
in a premarital agreement.
By way of example, and there are many, in the recent
holding of In re Marriage of Facter (2013) 212
Cal.App.4th 967, the court held that a premarital
agreement that contained a waiver of spousal support
prepared by a lawyer who had graduated from Harvard
Law School was in part unenforceable. In Facter the
court found that although the attorney who drafted the
premarital agreements was a seasoned commercial
transactional lawyer who practiced corporate law, he
failed to follow some of the basic conventions which
experienced family law attorneys follow in negotiating
a premarital agreement. The fallout for the party in
Facter who sought to enforce his premarital agreement
after a failed 14 year marriage was devastating.
Bio of Attorney Brian J. Kramer
Juris Doctor, University of Michigan Law School (1994), cum laude honors.
B.A., Japanese and East Asian Studies, University of Kansas (1990), magna cum laude
honors. While in college was a Rotary Club Scholar and attended Nanzan University
in Nagoya Japan.
Brian attended Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois and won the high
school National Debate Championship in 1986 as a senior.
Latham & Watkins, Orange County, 1994-1996
Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, Century City, 1996-2005
Hersh, Mannis & Bogen, Beverly Hills, 2005-2007
Brian J. Kramer Professional Corporation, 2008-Present
Member, State Bar of California since 1994, Family Law Section
Certified Family Law Specialist
Selected to the 2014 Super Lawyer list in Family Law
Member, Beverly Hills Bar Association, Family Law Executive Committee
Member, Los Angeles Bar, Family Law Section
Appellate counsel in In Re Marriage of Gehr (2012) S199760, and In re Marriage of
Turkanis & Price (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 332
Brian’s successful handling of Mr. Sean Sessums Means’ paternity and trusts matter
resulted in Mr. Means being named a beneficiary of one of the most storied trusts in
American history, The Doris Duke Trust. Brian’s successful handing of Mr. Means’
case became the subject of an 8-page article entitled An Unlikely Inheritance that
was featured in Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine in February, 2010. You can read a
copy of that story on Oprah’s website by clicking here.
In addition to the Doris Duke Trust matter, Brian has represented parties in several
high-profile family law matters including matters involving actors Jack Nicholson
and Mel Gibson, Director Tim Burton, NBA General Manager Kevin Pritchard, and UFC
Fighting Champion Chuck Liddell.
Brian has appeared on CBS News concerning the legalities of certain provisions in
premarital agreements, and has served as a guest speaker to financial advisors on
issues involving how clients may benefit from a premarital agreement.
There are only a few family law attorneys that subspecialize in family law matters
involving premarital agreements. The attorneys at our office are unique in that they
specialize in both the transactional side (i.e., the preparation and negotiation of such
agreements) and in representing clients in contested family law proceedings that involve
Because our lawyers have extensive experience and training in handling both the
transactional work involved in negotiating premarital agreements and in litigating issues
that arise about such agreements, they are knowledgeable about recent developments in
the law that are relevant issues.
Experienced family law attorneys who represent parties negotiating premarital
agreements play two critical roles. First, they help educate and advise their clients about
how a premarital agreement can properly affect and alter their rights involving such
matters as property rights and support. As a result, this requires the lawyer to have a
thorough knowledge of, among other things, California’s community property rules
including under what circumstances community property rights may arise and affect a
party’s ability to manage and control his or her assets. Attorneys who draft premarital
agreements must also be experienced about issues involving spousal support and how a
premarital agreement may be used to limit, waive or affect such rights.
Second, family law attorneys who negotiate premarital agreements must have the
experience and know-how to specifically tailor them to fit each couple’s special
circumstances in a manner that complies with the rigors of California law. California law
all but precludes a “cookie-cutter” approach to prenuptial agreements. A premarital
agreement not only must be specifically drafted to take into account each couple’s unique
circumstances, but under the law it must elaborate on certain aspects of those
circumstances to be effective and binding. If such agreements are not properly drafted,
they can be rendered unenforceable. This could have costly consequences on the parties
and members of their families.
A Proven Track Record of Superior Results in Contested Proceedings Involving
Typically when issues concerning the validity of a premarital or matrimonial
agreement arise, a family law court will upon a noticed motion agree to bifurcate the
proceeding so that it can be resolved prior to trial. This is typically the preferred manner
of handling such disputes since the resolution of such matters will dictate the outcome of
most issues that would arise in a contested family law trial (e.g., property division,
spousal support and possible limitations and restrictions on professional fees). Contested
litigation involving the validity of matrimonial agreements can be extremely expensive
and take an enormous financial and emotional toll on the parties.
In 2013, our office began the year by successfully representing a Beverly Hills
socialite and art and antique dealer in a three month bifurcated trial in Los Angeles
Superior Court involving the validity of his premarital agreement. As with most
contested proceedings, the difference between winning and losing often is the result of
the quality of the parties’ written presentations to the court. Our office is known for
excelling when it comes to preparing well written briefs when the stakes couldn’t get any
If you would like to review a sample of briefs we have filed at either the trial level or
on appeal in cases involving premarital agreements please click below:
To read a copy of the trial brief that we submitted in the matter of In re Marriage of
Slotkin please click here.
To read a copy of the winning brief we filed in the Marriage of Slotkin pertaining to
the retroactive application of certain amendments to the UPAA (Uniform Premarital
Agreement Act) that were promulgated in 2002 to premarital agreements that were
entered into prior to 2002 please click here.
In addition to representing clients at the trial level, as a result of recognized
expertise in matters involving matrimonial agreements, Brian Kramer has also been
retained as lead appellate counsel in appeals involving premarital agreements. For
example, Brian served as lead appellate counsel in the case of In re Marriage of Gehr in
case that involved the interplay between the Family Code’s limitations on rights to
reimbursements under section 2640 and provisions in premarital agreements that provide
for more onerous relief than permitted under the Code.
To read a copy of Brian’s successful Petition for Reconsideration to the California
Court of Appeal, which resulted in an extremely rare instance of an appellate court
amending its decision in favor of his client, please click here.
To read a copy of the Petition for Review to the California Supreme Court that Brian
prepared in Marriage of Gehr, please click here.
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