What Is the Purpose of a Prenuptial Agreement?
The goal of a prenuptial (premarital) agreement is to outline each spouse's responsibilities and rights and to provide provisions for how important matters will be handled in the event of separation, divorce, or death. The prenup itself is a written contract that both parties sign and finalize before the marriage occurs. Premarital agreements tend to focus on important financial matters but can also include planning for how certain disputes are to be handled.
Things you should consider including in your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement:
- Bank accounts
- Business interests
- Debts and credit card spending
- Property allocation
- Provisions for property division
- Retirement accounts and pensions
- Spousal support provisions
- Tax issues
You can also use a prenup to make plans for how household finances will be managed and develop an agreement for how certain marital problems will be handled (such as a provision requiring marriage counseling before a divorce or how infidelity will impact property division).
It is important to note that prenuptial agreements cannot put a limit on child support obligations. This matter must be handled separately and approved by the courts. However, you can include provisions for a stepparent to provide child support for stepchildren. Similarly, you cannot use a prenup to decide child custody matters.
How to Establish a Prenuptial Agreement
To develop a prenuptial agreement, both parties will work together to create a mutually beneficial contract. During this process, each person will work with their own legal representation while negotiating the contract terms. If you are interested in establishing a premarital agreement, you can reach out to one of our skilled attorneys at Hunt Law Firm for guidance.
Keep reading for tips on developing a prenuptial agreement.
Tips for Developing a Mutually Beneficial Marital Agreement
Though prenuptial agreements are legal documents, this does not necessarily mean that they are iron-clad and that the courts will automatically honor them. There are several situations in which a prenup may not hold up in court. For example, if the agreement is fraudulent in any way, the courts will not honor it.
Other reasons the courts may reject a prenup include:
- One party was coerced, manipulated, or pressured into signing
- The agreement disproportionately benefits one party or disadvantages the other
- The prenup wasn't put into writing or signed before the wedding
- The agreement contains child support or child custody provisions that are not allowed
- The courts determine the prenup is not legally valid
While many people believe that prenups imply a lack of faith in a relationship, this couldn't be farther from the truth. Prenuptial agreements are incredibly important planning documents and help couples get on the same page before beginning their marriage.
Tip #1: Always Work with an Experienced Attorney
It is important that both parties secure legal representation when establishing a prenup or other marital agreement. However, it is not recommended that they share a lawyer as this can lead to a court rejecting the prenup. Each party needs their own attorney to ensure that their best interests are represented while the document is drafted. It also helps prevent coercion, manipulation, or undue pressure to sign an unfair contract from taking place.
If you have been presented with a prenuptial agreement and are being pressured to sign, reach out to the attorneys at Hunt Law Firm for guidance. It is critical that a lawyer representing you and your best interests review the contract before you sign it.
Tip #2: Do Not Rely on a Verbal Agreement
Texas does not acknowledge verbal prenuptial agreements. Therefore, for a prenup to be legally valid, it needs to be in writing. Similarly, the prenuptial agreement must be signed before the marriage. If you and your partner failed to establish a prenuptial agreement before your wedding but wish you had one, you would need to work with an attorney to develop a postnuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements cannot be entered into after the fact, and they cannot take effect retroactively.
Tip #3: Don't Get Your Prenup Off the Internet
While doing your research is a good idea, do not get your prenuptial agreement off the internet or from a template. Many people think that hiring an attorney is an unnecessary expense, but it's also important to remember that online templates and online prenuptial agreements are not guaranteed to be in line with your best interests or the laws in your state. Too often, people draft their own prenups using internet templates only to have them thrown out by the courts. Instead, consider what items you want to be included in your prenuptial agreement and why you want the agreement established. Then, take your ideas to a skilled, reliable attorney, like ours at Hunt Law Firm, and work with them to develop a strong, mutually beneficial contract.