In a world where disputes and disharmony are the norms, prenuptial agreements offer spouses an opportunity to avoid nasty fights in a divorce scenario. While some people view prenuptial agreements as potentially underhanded in the best-off putting, the reality is that prenuptial agreements can be practical and reasonable alternatives to protracted divorce cases. One of the main reasons parties agree to negotiate the terms of their divorce ahead of time is that it is easier to plan logically and dispassionately.
This is an issue that I think some people overlook when planning out either a divorce or time spent negotiating a prenuptial agreement. The reality is that people involved in divorces typically do not feel as clearly or as logically as they would in other circumstances. You may believe that you are entirely unemotional about your divorce, and you may be approaching the case to have someone happy to have your marriage come to an end. However, that doesn’t mean that we will ultimately separate our emotions from the actual negotiations in a divorce case.
Rather than negotiate complex issues for your family during a pressure-filled divorce, some families determined that it is better to work through these issues before the marriage even begins. It is an entirely different experience to work with your spouse before you are married and before your marriage is coming to an end rather than waiting until a divorce to think about these challenging issues. Planning means that you know what to expect in your wedding, and it clears the air to the extent of expectations should a divorce occur.
What situations can a prenuptial agreement help you avoid when it comes to divorce?
The first benefit that comes to my mind when I think of a prenuptial agreement is that you can potentially help yourself avoid difficult situations down the road. A prenuptial agreement is a sort of like a will. I use this comparison because a will is a document that we draft while still living that plans for your death. A choice states what your desires are for your assets upon the end of your life. Rather than allowing a quart or family members to determine the outcome of your post-death property distribution, you can create a will and make those determinations before yourself while you are still in good health.
One of the things you see in movies and television shows about people trying to contest a will is that the person who created a choice is often not in their right mind when the world was created. The argument is that since they were ancient when the world was created, they were not thinking clearly. Therefore, the world is not displaying her desires regarding the distribution of their property upon their death. The show or movie will center around a family trying to dispute that will be the best of their advantage.
I think we can draw some parallels between a situation like this and a prenuptial agreement. If you desire to draft a property agreement about your marriage, it may be best to do so early rather than later. If you can talk with your fiancé about the possibility of having a prenuptial agreement drafted, then you can avoid problems in your divorce down the road. A prenuptial agreement is much like I will. Prenuptial agreements allow you to divide up the property between yourself and your spouse not when you are on the cusp of a divorce, but when you are actually on good terms with the person you are about to marry. This way, there can be little in the form of confusion or dispute as to whether or not the prenuptial agreement reflects your actual desires.
A will is also similar to prenuptial internet because many people feel uncomfortable drafting and finalizing a choice. There is something ominous about staring your mortality in the face and dividing up your property before you are even dead. We all know that the end will come for all of us at some point, but the thing is, we don’t know when. A will forces us to confront this reality, and that makes many of us uncomfortable.
We see a similar phenomenon when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Many people feel like they will jinx their marriage if they contemplate a divorce before the wedding even begins. It is a bit macabre to start determining issues like spousal maintenance, property division, and other issues for you and your fiancé before we even exchanged the “I do’s.” If this is a concern of yours, I would tell you to take a step back and consider that I don’t think there is any proof that people who enter into prenuptial agreements have a higher incidence of divorce than people who do not.
What I think about prenuptial agreements is that if you and your spouse fall into a few categories, you may seriously want to consider having a prenuptial agreement created on your behalves. Here are a few scenarios where I believe it is wise to consider having a prenuptial agreement negotiated between you and your fiancé.
What circumstances made you want to consider having a prenuptial agreement drafted?
The first situation that I would say merits strong consideration of having a prenuptial agreement drafted is when you and your spouse have wildly different levels of wealth as separate property. I am envisioning a scenario where perhaps you are wealthy from years of working as a professional. In contrast, your spouse has either not started their career or has been working but does not have the income-earning potential that you do. In this type of circumstance, it may be wise for you all to talk about having a prenuptial agreement signed.
There are a couple of things that people in this circumstance are not. By talking to your spouse about the possibility of a prenuptial agreement, you are not trying to rip them off. You are also not trying to stir the pot and hard in order in the present. For one, a prenuptial agreement allows you to ago she ate an atypical or flexible agreement on the post-divorce division of assets that a judge could not match in a trial. The irony of a contested divorce case is that you and your spouse may not be able to agree on how to divide up your assets, but a judge is even less equipped to do this than you are. Whynot guarantee that it’s taken out of his hands they allow you and your spouse to negotiate these terms directly?
Texas adheres to community property laws which will determine which assets in your marriage will be divided in which will not be. A prenuptial agreement allows you to circumvent these community property laws and create your outcomes based on what you and you will believe there. Again, I’m all about letting people determine their outcomes rather than the state of Texas. While a family court cannot uphold unconscionable agreements, any arrangement within the bounds of decency will be honored. As long as you are not ripping each other off, a judge will keep your prenuptial agreement.
In what circumstances find your prenuptial agreement to be invalid?
That’s not to say that a family court charge will enforce all prenuptial agreements. Some circumstances may come into play that invalidates the agreement and cause the document not to be worth the paper that it’s printed on. Let’s spend the remainder of today’s blog post going through some of the circumstances that may render your prenuptial agreement invalid in the eyes of a family court judge in Texas.
First, you need to be aware that while a prenuptial agreement can contain provisions on many topics, there are certain areas that a prenuptial agreement cannot dive into. Issues regarding your children are foremost among them. Things such as child support, child custody, and visitation rights cannot be determined in advance.
This makes sense in many ways, but I think the most obvious is that you cannot plan issues for children who have not yet been born. What if you have a special needs child who requires an extraordinary amount of child support or a visitation schedule that accommodates their unique needs? Determining these issues in advance would be unconscionable and would not be in the best interests of your child. Therefore, you should expect any language in your prenuptial agreement that defines responsibilities regarding your children to be declared invalid.
Second, if it is determined that you and your fiancé were not honest with each other when negotiating the agreement, it may be thrown out of court if you and you are forced down the road in a divorce. Like in an actual family law case, when you negotiate required by law to dipole information and be transparent about the material you want to go shooting on. If it comes to the forefront that you have been less than truthful with your spouse about some regions of your life, such as hiding assets, you risk having your entire agreement learn out.
Once your spouse learns about your dishonest deeds, they can argue to a family court judge that the prenuptial agreement is invalid. As long as they can produce evidence to this effect, it is likely that your prenuptial agreement will not be enforceable. Therefore, it is better to err on the side of caution and be completely honest with your spouse when it comes to sharing information that is material to drafting your prenuptial agreement.
Third, the law in Texas requires that your prenuptial agreement must be in writing to be declared valid by a family court judge later on. The document must contain both your and your spouse’s signature as well. You cannot present a haphazardly agreed to set of provisions on the back of an envelope without anyone’s signatures; expect that to be held up in court as a valid prenuptial agreement. Instead, both you and your spouse should hire attorneys to represent you and have the attorneys draft a prenuptial agreement on your behalf once the negotiation sessions are complete. This will help ensure the enforceability of your initial agreement down the road.
Finally, if it is shown that the agreement was entered into due to your coercing or pressuring your spouse to do so, it is unlikely that the contract will be declared valid. Both you and your spouse must have time to read through the contract and understand what it requires you to do before putting your signature on it. If you pressured your fiancé to sign the document or outright lied to them about what was being signed, then the paper will be declared invalid in the prenuptial agreement will have no force in a court of law.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about Texas family law and our services to our clients. I appreciate your interest in our law office, and we hope you will join us tomorrow as we share more information about the world of Texas family law.