A Family Law Attorney in Texas Helping Engaged Couples Protect their Rights
If you and your soon-to-be spouse are considering a prenuptial agreement, it is not an indication that you aren’t both fully committed to the relationship. Rather, a prenuptial agreement – or prenup – is nothing more than a legal contract that establishes a roadmap for how your property will be divided if your marriage does end in divorce or when one of you dies. While prenups used to be the bastion of the rich and famous, this is simply no longer the case. As our lives and our finances become more and more complicated, prenuptial agreements continue to become more and more common. If you are entering into marriage and are considering a prenuptial agreement – or if you have questions and/or concerns about a prenuptial agreement – consult with an experienced Houston divorce attorney today.
First Things First
If you’re about to be married, you probably don’t want to spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about a prenuptial agreement. If your intended, however, is asking for a prenuptial agreement, it’s time to pay attention. A prenup is a legal contract, and legal contracts are complicated at best and are willfully obtuse at worst. Do not sign a prenuptial agreement before you’ve consulted with a skilled Houston divorce lawyer. Ideally, you and your partner will work in tandem – along with your respective family law attorneys – to create a prenup that protects both of your rights and assets.
A Texas prenuptial agreement outlines the rights and responsibilities that each spouse will take on in the event of divorce. If the agreement is legal and isn’t in violation of public policy, there are very few stipulations that are off limits. It’s worth mentioning, however, that a prenuptial agreement cannot address child custody arrangements or the issue of child support (unless the stipulation is in excess of court-ordered child support) – these are separate issues that the court will determine in the children’s best interests (if the two of you can’t come to mutual agreement). There are several issues that prenuptial agreements commonly address:
- How your community property will be divided upon divorce
- Who owns what to begin with
- How death benefits with be handled and distributed in the event of death (this is especially important if one or both of you have children from previous relationships)
- How the future inheritances of children from previous relationships will be handled upon divorce and how their inheritances will be handled upon death
- Who – if anyone – will receive spousal support upon divorce and in what amount
- How premarital debt will be handled upon divorce
While many people have strong negative feelings about prenuptial agreements, a solid prenup can provide you with the financial peace-of-mind you need to move forward into your marriage with purpose and confidence. After all, striving to safeguard your financial future is always in your best interests.
For the courts to honor a prenuptial agreement, it must have been entered into voluntarily. This means that when the prenup is signed is nearly as important as what is in the signed prenup. If one soon-to-be spouse foists a prenup on the other just days before the wedding ceremony, for example, it could – if the time to enforce the contract ever comes – give the judge pause.
A prenuptial agreement should represent a carefully considered contract that both parties had ample time to contemplate – with a clear understanding of its legal and financial implications. If a bride or groom finds that he or she is facing a prenup in the throes of last minute wedding preparations, and all that such entails, it can lead to the appearance that the recipient was coerced into signing. When it comes to prenups, timing matters.
While Texas courts generally honor carefully crafted prenuptial agreements, there are specific protocols that must be adhered to:
- The prenup must be in writing and be voluntarily signed by both parties
- Both parties must have entered the prenup voluntarily and have had the legal right to do so
- Both parties must have adequately disclosed their total assets in the prenup
- The prenup must be legal and not in violation of existing public policy
In addition to the aforementioned legalities, a Texas prenuptial agreement will not be validated if it is determined to incorporate “unconscionability.” Unconscionability amounts to the contract being so disproportionate in the division of property that a reasonable person in good consciousness wouldn’t consider it fair. When two people come together in marriage, they intermingle their lives, including their finances. A prenuptial cannot and should not prevent these basic tenets of marriage from occurring. As such, a prenuptial agreement that lacks balance – or is unconscionable – isn’t enforceable.
Prenups Aren’t for Everyone
The National Health Statistics Report shares that Americans are waiting longer to get married, and with this increase in age, comes the comingling of more complicated financial histories. When a young couple with few financial complications – including the absence of potential inheritances – enters into marriage, there is likely fewer reasons for a prenup. Marriage, after all, is a contract that guides the intermingling of the parties’ financial resources over time. When, on the other hand, two people with complex financial holdings enter into marriage, the standard marriage contract probably isn’t robust enough to protect both parties’ financial interests, and a prenuptial agreement is usually advisable. When either or both parties bring children into a marriage, a prenup becomes that much more relevant.
If You Have Questions or Concerns about a Prenuptial Agreement, Consult with an Experienced Houston Divorce Attorney Today
If you’re preparing to marry and considering a prenup, it’s time to consult with an experienced Houston divorce lawyer. Prenuptial agreements are complicated, but the dedicated legal professionals at Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston, have the experience, skill, and commitment to help ensure that your prenuptial agreement works for you and your marriage. Your rights matter, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 713-781-7775 for a free consultation today.