Couples enter into marriage with the intention of dedicating themselves to that marriage and remaining married. The fact is that many marriages end in divorce, but pursuing a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage does not signify that the couple has doubts about their marriage. Instead, a prenuptial agreement is nothing more than a contract that is intended to guide the proceedings if the marriage ends in divorce. A well-drafted prenuptial agreement can play a significant role in the dissolution of a marriage and can, ultimately, mitigate the time, expense, and heartache that often accompanies divorce.
The Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is a contract between the two people who are entering into marriage that goes into effect when they get married. As long as the document is drafted with care, the court will presume that it is valid and will uphold its specifications when and if it comes into effect. This makes a solid prenuptial agreement difficult to legally bypass. If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, it is in your best interest to seek professional legal counsel. A prenup that doesn’t hold up in court can actually lead to more legal expenses and delays than if you hadn’t had an agreement in the first place.
Who Do Prenuptial Agreements Benefit?
Obviously, not everyone needs a prenup. If you are a young couple who is entering into marriage for the first time and if neither of you possesses significant wealth or is anticipating a sizable family trust or inheritance in the future, you most likely don’t need a prenuptial agreement. In an instance such as this, you and your spouse will grow your marital property together, and you will both share equally in ownership.
Conversely, if you and your intended are entering into a marriage and either one of you has significant personal assets – including property, savings, stocks and bonds, or a business (or you stand to inherit these assets the future) – a prenuptial agreement is probably advisable. When you allocate ownership of property ahead of time, it allows both of you to proceed with clear expectations about what is personal property, what is marital property, and how your assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. Ultimately, a prenuptial agreement allows the peace of mind that comes from knowing the court will probably not wield its considerable discretion in the division of your property.
Texas: A Community Property State
The State of Texas is a community property state, and this generally means that the property you acquire as a married couple is shared equally between the two of you. If you come into the marriage with separate property, a solid prenuptial agreement will help ensure that it remains separate property and that it doesn’t morph into marital property over the course of your marriage. In a Texas divorce, separate property is not divided between the spouses.
Property and Ambiguity
It’s important to point out that, while a prenuptial agreement informs both partners about each other’s separate property, the line can become blurred over time. For example, if you come into your marriage with a business of your own, but both of you proceed to manage and grow the business together, the line between separate property and marital property can become ambiguous. Working closely with an experienced Houston family law attorney can help. Your dedicated attorney will help ensure that you keep the business’s bookkeeping pristine in support of both your intentions as you move forward.
When a couple has been married for a long time or when a couple’s circumstances have changed dramatically, their prenuptial agreement (if they have one) can become a less accurate reflection of how the couple would like to proceed in the event that the marriage ends in divorce. This applies to the business example shared above and to a variety of other situations:
- When one spouse accrues significant debt on his or her own within the marriage, a postnuptial can help restore the balance and ensure that the other spouse won’t be unfairly burdened in the event of a divorce. Providing this security can help alleviate the stress associated with unwieldy debt and, thus, help strengthen the marriage.
- When one spouse makes far more money than the other spouse during the course of a marriage, a postnuptial agreement can help ensure that the high earner receives a proportionate sum if divorce ensues. Conversely, when one spouse gives up a career to allow the other spouse to become a high earner, a prenuptial can help ensure that he or she is accommodated fairly if the marriage ends in divorce.
- A postnuptial agreement can also signify a renewed commitment to the marriage – allowing one’s spouse the peace of mind that comes from knowing that he or she will be well taken care of in the event of a divorce. Further, a postnup can quell trust issues related to infidelity. Finally, a postnuptial agreement can render a prenuptial agreement that no longer reflects a couple’s situation more accurate and equitable.
Considering a Prenuptial Agreement
If you aren’t sure about whether or not you need a prenup, don’t take the path of least resistance by simply throwing caution to the wind. Pursuing a prenuptial agreement doesn’t mean that you aren’t committed to your upcoming marriage. Instead, a prenup signifies that you not only take the union seriously but that you also want to start off on the right foot. If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, speak with a knowledgeable Houston divorce attorney today.
If You’re Unsure about Whether You Need a Prenup, Consult with an Experienced Houston Divorce Lawyer Today
You’re entering into a marriage, and divorce is naturally the furthest thing from your mind. A prenuptial agreement, however, doesn’t signify otherwise. The dedicated legal team at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston will review your unique circumstances with you and will carefully draft a prenuptial agreement in support of your marriage. We’re here to help, so please contact or call us at 713-781-7775 today.