Houston Prenuptial Agreements Attorney
While the beginning of a marriage is an exciting time, the commitment to marriage is an important step that will affect your rights and your financial well-being. Before entering into a marriage, it is important for both parties to understand the potential financial risks that they may face in marriage. You can protect your savings for children from a prior marriage or other assets. You can also ensure that you are financially secure in the event of a divorce.
At The Alsandor Law Firm, we provide sound guidance and counsel to clients interested in drafting or modifying a prenuptial agreement.
A prenuptial agreement can be an important step to protect your finances and security after a divorce. To protect your rights, please contact us to draft, modify, defend or enforce a prenuptial agreement.
Have You Been Asked to Sign a Prenuptial Agreement?
If someone handed you a prenuptial agreement prior to a marriage and you want to understand your rights and obligations before you sign, our attorney can review the prenuptial agreement and make any modifications necessary. We can also make any necessary changes to ensure that you are financially secure in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can be an important tool for all couples. This is especially true for those with significant assets prior to entering a marriage.
Why Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are a difficult topic to broach, we know, but in some cases, they are appropriate. The stigma, however, is that you are “preparing for your marriage to fail” or you “don’t trust your future spouse.” Indeed, it is largely those who enter a marriage with substantial wealth or are on their second or third marriage who think the prenuptials are a good idea. There are other reasons why you might consider prenuptial agreements. Here, we’ll take a look at some of those reasons and answer some of the questions most folks have about prenuptials.
Community Property Rules in Texas
In Texas, you and your spouse have your own personal property and property of the marriage. In other words, there is property that you have before the marriage and property that you or your spouse acquired during the marriage. Property acquired during the marriage is subject to equitable division upon divorce.
There is, however, room for gray area. For instance, let’s say you run a business before marrying your spouse and, during the marriage, the business accrues a great deal of value. While the business existed before the marriage, the majority of its value was added during the marriage. Hence, the majority of the business’s value is community property or property of the marriage and subject to division during divorce.
This, of course, depends on two important factors: How long was the marriage going on and how much value did the business accrue during that period. If your marriage only lasted a year or so, you probably don’t have to worry too much about your business. If your marriage lasted for 20 years, then your soon-to-be-former spouse will likely have a rather large stake in your business.
There is only one way to protect your business from being equitably divided during a divorce. That is a prenuptial agreement.
Equitable Distribution of Marital Property
Texas is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court divides property fairly, but not necessarily evenly. There are a number of factors that the court will need to consider when distributing property between the two spouses. Elements, for instance, like fault play a very large role in how the court will distribute property.
Texas allows couples to pursue either no-fault or fault-based grounds. If one spouse can prove the other spouse, for example, cheated during the marriage, this would impact the distribution of property in divorce.
In addition, the relative earning power of either spouse is going to be a major factor. Again, the only way to protect considerable assets accrued during the marriage to agree contractually that some property belongs to you only.
How Do Prenuptial Agreements Work?
Before the marriage, each party will sit down and have an attorney or attorneys draw up a contract separating what is their property from what is marital property. Both spouses sign the agreement and it goes into effect as soon as the marriage commences.
What Can You Protect in a Prenuptial Agreement?
- Wages. Sometimes, if both spouses earn money in their respective careers, it makes more sense for them to keep their wages separate than it does to lump them together. This does not, however, preclude one spouse from paying alimony or child support.
- Income from separate property. If you own interests in a business or real estate, typically that income is considered to be marital property. You can define it as separate/personal property.
- Waiver of homestead rights. Certain property, like your residential home, defaults to your current spouse when you pass. In some cases, a couple may want to waive this right.
- Waiver of spousal support. Typically, spousal support is afforded one spouse when their own financial obligations cannot be met entirely themselves. In some cases, spouses may waive spousal support.
- Disposition of property after death or divorce. Spouses can agree ahead of time how they will distribute their assets after divorce or death.
In addition, so long as a provision is not considered exploitative or contrary to public policy, the court will uphold that provision.
Prenuptial Agreements to Protect the Security of Your Children
It is important for older couples and couples with children to draft an agreement that clearly defines financial intentions should there be a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can protect money you have set aside for your children and protect your savings from a divorcing spouse. While it can be difficult to consider the worst, you can take action to protect your financial interests and the security of your children.
What Can’t You Agree to in a Prenuptial Agreement?
While a prenuptial agreement can contain basically anything, not everything it contains is legally enforceable under Texas law. For instance:
- You cannot convert separate property into marital property in a prenuptial agreement. Instead, you have to wait until after you are married to do this.
- You cannot have any provision in a prenuptial agreement that limits or waives the duty to pay child support. That is not something that the courts will enforce.
Contesting a Prenuptial Agreement
Contesting a prenuptial agreement is much like contesting a will. There are criteria that you need to meet for the document to be valid. Firstly, it is assumed that the document was signed voluntarily (i.e.: not under duress). If the court finds that someone coerced or pressured the other person into signing the document with undue influence, the court may toss it altogether.
In addition, there is a three-point test that the court may use to toss a prenup. The spouse challenging the prenup must show that:
- The other spouse did not adequately disclose their finances.
- They did not waive the disclosure in writing.
- There was no way they could have known about property or assets held by the other spouse.
Postnuptial Agreements: Drafting, Defending and Enforcement
In addition to prenuptial agreements, we also handle postnuptial agreements (contracts made after a marriage). For more information about drafting, defending or the enforcement of a postnuptial agreement related to support or custody, please contact us for an initial consultation or case evaluation.
Contact The Alsandor Law Firm for a consultation with Cheryl Alsandor, a family law specialist board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, or one of our other family law attorneys, serving clients throughout the Greater Houston, Texas area.