Many couples enter into prenuptial agreements before taking their vows. Perhaps it was an act of faith for the less monied partner. Maybe it was something a parent insisted on in order to give their blessing and the couple agreed. It might have been two independently wealthy partners who wanted to make sure their assets were kept separate in the event of divorce. Whatever the reason for creating the document, when it comes time to actually enforce it one of the marriage partners may no longer feel the document is fair and does not want to abide by the previously agreed upon guidelines. When this happens, they may even petition the court to nullify the prenuptial agreement.
What Does a Prenuptial Agreement Do?
A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that specifies what happens to each partners assets and property in the case of divorce. In Texas, there is a comprehensive list of items that may be addressed in a prenuptial agreement. A few of them include:
- The rights and obligations of each partner concerning property that either of them possesses.
- The right to manage (sell, mortgage, transfer, etc.) any said property.
- Rules regarding disposition of property in the event of separation or divorce.
- The provision or elimination of spousal support.
- Creation of a will to enforce provisions of the prenuptial agreement.
- Disposition of benefits from a life insurance policy.
- Any other matter, as long as it does not violate the law.
**It’s important to note that Texas law prohibits elimination or reduction of child support as part of a prenuptial agreement.
What Are the Basic Requirements of a Prenuptial Agreement?
We’ve already discussed what a prenuptial agreement does. But what are the basic elements such an agreement must include? There are four essential components that must be present for a prenuptial agreement to hold clout.
- The document must be in writing. No oral agreements are enforceable.
- Prenuptial agreements must have the signature of both partners.
- Both partners must fully and accurately disclose all relevant asset and resource information.
- Both partners waive the right to any additional disclosure.
Why would a Person Want a Prenuptial Agreement?
There are a variety of reasons either party in a new marriage may want a prenuptial agreement. In Texas, if there is no such agreement, property and assets are community property. This means both parties will split everything equally. A prenuptial agreement can specify stipulations about property and its distribution in the event of a divorce.
Another reason for prenuptial agreements may relate to future inheritances. For instance, if one partner will inherit a piece of property with the intention of keeping it in the family, a prenuptial agreement could specify that. If one of the pair stands to inherit a substantial amount of money, either from an estate or life insurance policy, the distribution could be decided upon in advance.
The protection of business and finances is yet another reason for creating a prenuptial agreement. For instance, if one partner owns a business, an agreement can protect their business and keep it out of any community property settlement. Also, if one partner has a significant amount of debit, a prenuptial agreement keeping income separate might help to keep their income from being seized or used to pay off that debt.
Does Texas Law Allow a Prenuptial Agreement to be Broken?
Of course, the agreement may be nullified or adjusted if both parties agree, but other than that there are really only two reasons the state of Texas allows to break a prenuptial agreement.
- The requesting party must prove that they did not sign the agreement voluntarily. This means that they must provide evidence showing that they were duped, misled, or otherwise purposefully misinformed in some way. Maybe they didn’t receive ample time to review the document or signed under duress.
- The agreement was incorrect (deliberately or otherwise) when created and signed. Perhaps one party hid assets or didn’t include some property on the legal document. The following conditions must also be met:
- The contesting party did not receive full and accurate disclosure of their partner’s property and resources.
- They did not waive, in writing, full and accurate disclosure of their partner’s property and resources.
- They did not, on their own, have full and accurate knowledge of their partner’s property and resources.
**Note that a prenuptial agreement can also be damaged/defaulted by one or both partners choosing to mix the financial affairs during the marriage that were previously separated in the agreement.
Time is of the Essence Concerning Prenuptial Agreements
If you think you may need a prenuptial agreement it is important to consult a qualified attorney as soon as possible. It can take some time to ensure that a document meets all legal requirements and also works out any concerns either partner may have. If you neglect to obtain a prenuptial agreement and either you or your spouse later decide you need one, you can talk to your attorney about creating a post nuptial agreement instead. Both documents are very similar, with the main difference, of course, being the time of creation.
It’s essential to consult with an attorney if you have any questions about prenuptial agreements. Because of their specific nature, it is necessary for a qualified attorney to assist in creating it. They will be able to guide you in the information you will need to gather as well as what any legal requirements for the document.
If you are interested in learning more about hiring an experienced attorney in Texas that can answer your prenuptial agreement questions, please contact Wilson & Associates Law at (214) 646-3253 today. We can answer all of your questions regarding prenuptial agreements as well as help guide you through the process of creating, contesting, or defending one.