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Prenuptial Agreements 101

If you are getting married, you should know about prenuptial agreements. These agreements can be helpful in protecting your assets. Some people avoid prenups because they fear that their partner will think they are not invested in the relationship. Although it may be difficult to discuss with your partner, a prenup can keep you from having serious disagreements later if you decide to divorce. Prenups are not just for the rich and famous. They are more popular than ever and are a good way to ensure a smooth uncoupling.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract made between spouses prior to marriage that defines assets and property and details how they will be handled if the couple divorces. This type of agreement is made prior to marriage but only becomes effective once the wedding takes place. It provides for how assets are to be distributed if the couple ends their marriage. Texas is a state that offers no-fault divorce. Therefore, it may be more important than ever to seek a prenup as a way for both parties to protect their respective interests.

Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenup offers many benefits to both parties. First, the prenup requires parties to fully disclose their assets as well as their debts. This can be very beneficial because you start the marriage with no financial secrets. The prenup will dictate how you distribute community property in a divorce. Community property includes assets and property that you obtained during the marriage. If you have assets that you owned before you got married, you can designate that they are to remain separate property in a divorce.

If one party has child support or alimony payments from a previous relationship, you can separate these matters so they will not impact a future divorce settlement. A premarital agreement is a good way to preserve your assets and make sure that they will be split fairly. The agreement can significantly cut down on disputes during divorce since you have already made decisions about the divorce settlement.

Who Should Have a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenup is a document that can be helpful for any married couple. The agreement covers all the important aspects of a settlement agreement, so it can make things much easier should a couple divorce. You do not need to be rich to benefit from a prenup. Even those who are just starting out and do not yet have much property or many assets can be helped by having a prenuptial agreement in place.

Are All Prenups Valid?

There are many variations of prenuptial agreements. There are some common things that a prenup must contain in order to be valid. The prenup must be made by both parties voluntarily. A prenup is only valid when it was made in contemplation of marriage. It must be in writing, and both parties must sign the document. An agreement made prior to marriage is effective upon marriage. When the parties wed, the agreement takes effect. You cannot include any provisions that would be illegal, or that would intentionally defraud someone. Both parties must disclose their assets as well as their liabilities before signing the document. Failure to do so could invalidate a prenuptial agreement.

Provisions in a Prenuptial Agreement

There are many different provisions that you can include in a prenuptial agreement. The more detailed the agreement, the better. A well-written agreement gives both parties instructions to follow in the event of a divorce. Include some or all of the following:

  • How property will be distributed

  • The rights and obligations of each party in relation to property

  • Whether separate property will become joint property after a period of time

  • How to manage bank accounts

  • Division of specific property or assets

  • How to resolve disputes

It is important to note that a prenuptial agreement generally does not address child support and custody matters. You cannot designate a specific amount of child support in a prenup. The courts will determine child support issues.

Special Prenuptial Clauses

One of the best things about a prenup is that you can include clauses to address any particular needs you have. Just a couple examples are the infidelity cause and the sunset clause.

Infidelity Clause

An infidelity clause provides for some considerations for property or asset distribution or other requirements when one spouse is unfaithful during the marriage. Although divorce is generally no-fault in Texas, the law does allow for infidelity as grounds for divorce. An infidelity clause will not prevent the court from making sure that community property is divided in a fair manner.

Sunset Clause

A sunset clause is an instruction that ends the agreement after a specific number of years of marriage. For example, the prenup may state that if the marriage lasts more than 10 years, the prenup becomes null and void. You can indicate a specific time period or date when the prenup contract expires.

Can We Dissolve a Prenuptial Agreement?

A couple may choose to voluntarily dissolve a prenuptial agreement. Both parties may enter into a new agreement that either modifies or rescinds the original agreement. The new agreement must be made in writing by both parties. You must dissolve a prenup agreement legally, or it remains in effect and continues to be binding. An experienced family law attorney will be able to assist you with the dissolution of a prenuptial agreement once it is in place.

Can I Dispute a Prenuptial Agreement?

If a couple decides to end their marriage and they have a prenup in place, it defines how the couple will decide on divorce settlement terms. There are times when someone may dispute whether a prenuptial agreement is legal. Some reasons why a prenuptial agreement may not be legally binding include when the agreement was made under duress of one of the parties. One party may assert that the agreement was unfair and you were unable to negotiate or you did not know about all of the assets at the time of signing.

Someone who was drunk or otherwise incapacitated at the time of signing a prenup contract is unable to legally make such an agreement. If one party did not understand the agreement or was not aware of what the agreement meant, you may be able to assert that the agreement should not be binding. If one party disputes a prenup, the court will review and evaluate the evidence and make a decision.

Prenuptial agreements are essential for many people who are entering into marriage. Protect yourself and your current and future assets by obtaining a prenup before you say “I do.” To learn more about prenuptial agreements, contact us today at Sosa Law at (956) 317-5412 to schedule a consultation.

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