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No one wants to think about their marriage ending before they even get to the altar. But divorce is an unfortunate reality for many couples, and property division is often one of the most contentious issues spouses face when they go through the process. By executing a Texas prenuptial agreement before tying the knot, financial matters can be determined in advance — and costly legal disputes can potentially be avoided should the couple decide to part ways.
Providing compassionate counsel and knowledgeable representation, Stacey Valdez & Associates is dedicated to guiding clients through the process of creating prenuptial agreements that can withstand litigation. Offering personalized time and attention, Attorney Stacey Valdez works with clients to draft customized prenups that protect their financial interests and serve their specific needs.
A prenuptial agreement — also known as a “prenup” — is a contract entered into by a couple before marriage that settles financial matters in the event of divorce. Although the agreement must be executed before the couple is married, it becomes valid once the marriage occurs. Unless it contains a “sunset clause” that specifies a date or condition upon which the prenup would expire, it remains effective throughout the duration of the marriage.
Prenups aren’t only drawn up to safeguard assets from a potential divorce. They can also outline a couple’s financial expectations or be used in connection with an estate plan. Anyone who wishes to protect their assets should strongly consider a prenuptial agreement. However, they are particularly important for individuals who possess a substantial amount of assets, own businesses, or have children from a previous marriage.
There are certain legal requirements that must be satisfied in order for a prenuptial agreement in Texas to be valid and enforceable. Significantly, complete and accurate financial disclosure is mandatory — each party must have a full understanding of the other’s financial obligations and assets. This is critical to ensure that each party is informed and knows precisely what they’re agreeing to. If either party fails to disclose an asset or liability, the prenup may be set aside in a divorce.
In addition, to be legally enforceable under the Texas Family Code, a prenup must be:
When a prenuptial agreement in Texas is enforceable, it overrides the community property laws that govern the distribution of property in a divorce. Without a prenup, any assets acquired during the marriage — or debts incurred — by either spouse are subject to division in divorce, regardless of the length of the marriage. Although property owned before marriage is deemed “separate property,” and typically remains with the original owner, complexities can arise if it was “commingled” with community property.
A prenup can help to avoid the various complexities that can arise when it comes to property division and save parties to a divorce the time and expense that would otherwise be spent on litigation. At Stacey Valdez & Associates, our attorneys work with clients to carefully identify their assets and property and draft solid prenups that specifically delineate how they should be characterized.
Prenuptial agreements don’t only offer protection if the marriage doesn’t work out. They can serve as an essential tool to help spouses communicate about their finances in order to keep their marriage strong. Importantly, marriage is an economic partnership just as much as it is an emotional one. A prenup can encourage couples to have an open discussion regarding each of their financial situations.
A prenup can accomplish many goals and allow a couple to create a tailored plan that meets the needs of their marriage. It can establish how spouses agree to use joint bank accounts and specify who is obligated to pay certain expenses. It may also include provisions regarding spousal support, the consequences of adultery, and determine the dispute resolution method to be used should the couple decide to divorce.
Not only does a prenup void the community property laws that would determine property division in divorce — but it can effectively nullify the intestate law if a spouse passes without a will. Additionally, if an estate plan is in place, a prenup can also work with a last will and testament to limit a spouse’s property inheritance rights upon the death of the other. This can be essential for those who wish to protect the inheritance rights of any children from previous marriages.
While a Texas prenuptial agreement can achieve a number of objectives, there are certain clauses that cannot be included, as a matter of public policy. For example, a prenup cannot eliminate child support or limit the amount that the noncustodial parent would be required to pay. Such a provision would be rendered unenforceable by a judge.
The prenuptial agreement attorneys at Stacey Valdez & Associates have extensive experience assisting clients with drafting comprehensive prenups that satisfy their objectives — and survive scrutinization during the divorce process.
If you’re considering entering into a prenup with your fiancé — or you have been presented with one — it’s critical to have the guidance of an experienced attorney to ensure the agreement is fair and executed properly. Located in Houston and serving clients throughout the surrounding area, Stacey Valdez & Associates is committed to providing clients with skillful counsel for a wide variety of family law matters, including drafting and reviewing prenuptial agreements. We welcome you to contact us for a consultation to learn more about how we can help.