Dower Contracts and a Texas Divorce

In certain cultures and religions, the ancient custom of the dower continues to hold significant weight, and in a state such as Texas, it can potentially become a contentious issue in the division of assets during a divorce process. This dower, often set as a predetermined sum of money or assets, is a provision made by a husband for his wife, and it may be required to be paid in the event of a divorce. In many situations, these dower agreements can introduce an additional layer of complexity when assessing the division of marital assets in divorce proceedings.

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC has a wealth of experience in representing clients who are navigating the intricacies of divorce, and this spans throughout numerous regions in Harris County, including Houston, Northwest Houston, Champions, Spring, Tomball, Klein, and the FM 1960 area. Additionally, our services extend to The Woodlands and Conroe in Montgomery County. Our adept team of family lawyers bring their expertise to the table in dealing with dower contracts, especially as they pertain to the dissolution of a marriage, providing invaluable insights and guidance to our clients.

Common law and the laws of many states uphold the viewpoint that a contract wherein a husband is obligated to pay his wife a predetermined sum upon divorce can be considered contrary to public policy. The fundamental reasoning supporting this perspective is rooted in the belief that such a contract could potentially incentivize divorce.

When we delve into the Texas Family Code, we find at least two statutes that provide backing for the enforcement of dower agreements. Assuming that a dower agreement aligns with all the requirements outlined in one of these sections, the law would incline towards presuming in favor of the dower contract.

The first of these statutes focuses on defining a premarital agreement. Essentially, a premarital agreement is a written agreement, made before the marriage, in contemplation of the forthcoming marriage. Such an agreement must be distinct and explicit to the extent that the involved parties and the court can clearly discern its terms. If the court determines that a dower agreement satisfies all of the stipulations for a premarital agreement, it would be predisposed to enforce it.

The second relevant statute is the one that defines post-marital agreements, including partition and exchange agreements. The legislative requirements for a post-marital agreement are more rigorous than those for a premarital agreement. Nevertheless, if a dower contract was formulated after the marriage and it meets all the other statutory prerequisites, there is a presumption that it should be validated and upheld.

The Texas Legislature implemented these statutes to afford future spouses and existing spouses the autonomy to delineate their own marital property rights. In turn, these statutes can be employed by an astute attorney to convince a court to enforce dower agreements in the course of a divorce proceeding. This underlines the significance of seeking competent legal representation when dealing with complex issues like dower agreements in the context of divorce proceedings.

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