Prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” are a contract between two individuals before marriage that govern property and other community issues in the event of divorce. Couples draft and sign these contracts before the marriage, and they become effective on the date of marriage.
Prenups are generally created to deal with the more un-romantic matters of money and property, such as the marital house (or houses), vehicles, and retirement accounts.
No one wants to think about divorce while buying rings or planning a wedding. But having honest discussions about income, assets, and the possibility of an end to the relationship can go a long way in preventing more grief and litigation later.
A Couple’s Collaboration
Getting a prenup requires both parties to work together to draft and design a contract that they can agree to and live with. A prenup starts the discussion on financial matters, as well as other relevant marriage-related matters.
A couple who works closely together on their prenuptial agreement will quickly discover if they are “on the same page,” and discover what they need to do to get there. Collaborating on a contract for life without the high emotion of wedding planning helps couples gain a deep understanding of each other’s goals, values,
Property, Separate And Community
Since Texas is a “community property state,” anything acquired in the duration of the marriage is part of the marital estate, and can be divided or sold. Property acquired before the marriage is generally considered separate, and not subject to being part of the divorce. Texas also allows individuals to declare property as separate and keep it out of a divorce proceeding.
Making these decision ahead of time can save time and money later should the marriage end, since this task is already covered (and may cost less in litigation fees.) A prenup can also ensure that property intended for someone else at the time of a spouse’s death will be given as intended, but it does not replace a will.
Property, Financial And Retirement
A prenup protects separate property from becoming part of the marital estate that’s sold as community property. Things like:
- Family business interests
- Real estate income from property owned prior to marriage
- Investments such as stocks
- Pensions and retirement accounts
Since a number of marriages are not a couple’s first, there are likely children whose interests that need to be protected. Adding these to a prenup ensures that their inheritances and other familial interests are documented in case of a divorce as well as the death of either spouse.
Protecting Your Business
If you own a business, it should be declared as separate property. Otherwise, your spouse could become a shareholder or business partner after a divorce—or you could lose it entirely.
If you are concerned that you could be stuck with the other person’s debt after a divorce, consider adding a clause stating that each party would be responsible for their own debts. This includes credit cards, student loans, car notes and anything else purchased on credit. Keeping separate accounts will also help.
A prenup shouldn’t be presented to a party the day before—or the morning of—a wedding. A couple should plan and draft their prenup ahead of time. After the couple completes their draft, the agreement should be ratified by each party’s counsel and signed long before the wedding.
Prenup contracts that are signed under duress, are unfair to one of the parties, don’t disclose all financial assets, or have evidence of fraud by one party can be invalidated by the court in divorce proceedings.
If necessary, you can also revise your prenup after the wedding, and it will be called an “antenuptial agreement.”
Fort Worth’s Compassionate Divorce Attorney
Wendy L. Hart is an experienced family law attorney helping people throughout Tarrant County who need help in marriage and family matters. Wendy understands the divorce process as well as the difficulties involved. We represent both men and women in family law matters. We’ll make sure you’re treated fairly, and will protect your interests and your children.