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What you need to know about Texas premarital and post-nuptial agreements

Texas couples can avoid stress and legal fees in a divorce by signing a premarital agreement before they wed.
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    January 11, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A wedding is a joyous event. Two people join together before their loved ones and pledge to spend their lives together. There is dancing, music, cake and a jovial atmosphere to celebrate their new life as a couple. Though there is usually some stress involved in the planning of the wedding itself, most marriages kick off on a positive note. After the wedding, both bride and groom are happy and confident about spending the rest of their lives together.

Cut to a few years down the road. Arguing about finances, the stress of a serious illness, inattention to one another, differences in child-rearing or other issues have taken their toll; the once-happy couple now plans to divorce. Feeding on the stressful situation their marriage has become and the emotions involved, the divorce is contentious and drawn out, with the couple fighting over every issue, including the division of their marital and separate property.

Though some wrangling would likely have been inevitable - particularly regarding issues like child custody, parenting time and child support - arguments about property and debt division could easily have been avoided had the couple signed a premarital or post-nuptial (also known as "post-marital") agreement.

What is a premarital agreement?

A premarital agreement (also called a "prenuptial agreement" or a "prenup") is a document signed prior to marriage where the prospective spouses set forth their preferences for the division of assets and debts and preemptively address whether alimony will be awarded in the event of a divorce. The same can be done with a document signed after the couple has married, but an agreement filed after the wedding is called a "post-nuptial agreement" ("post-nup" or "post-marital"). In Texas, such documents are governed by Texas Family Code Sections 4.001-4.206, the Texas Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.

Some people hear the word "prenup" and cringe. They may envision a scenario where a very wealthy party is marrying someone poor, with the prenup acting as a barrier that keeps the lesser-earning spouse from collecting a fair share of assets in a divorce. These same people likely view prenups as unromantic, a sign that a marriage is doomed to fail or a lack of trust between the spouses. That may well have been the case in the past, but times have changed.

The reality

Today's prenups and post-nups are surprisingly versatile legal documents that can do anything from delineate property for a recipient outside the marriage (like children from a prior relationship) to establish a spousal support/alimony amount in the event of a divorce. These days, with the rate of divorce in first-time marriages hovering at 50 percent, and that rate being even higher in subsequent marriages, divorce is a real issue that couples need to consider.

Though the rose-colored glasses of love may cloud their judgment going into the marriage, divorce is a reality for millions of people across the country each year. Some planning, either before the wedding or afterwards, to establish some "ground rules" for how a divorce will be handled can save the couple months of stress and thousands of dollars in legal fees that could be incurred hammering those same issues out in a courtroom.

Do you have questions about how a prenup or post-marital agreement could be applicable to your Texas marriage? Would you like help drafting a prenup that is fair, legally enforceable and thorough? Have you already prepared a document but are unsure if it will serve your purposes? For the answers to these and other related questions, contact a Texas family law attorney.

Article provided by Nichols Law, PLLC
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